They’ve already spoiled the party for one premiership contender and this week the Canberra Raiders NYC team will be looking to take out an even bigger scalp when they face the Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
Last week’s win against the Wests Tigers was by far the gutsiest win the side has had all year and Mick Mantelli’s troops will be aiming to replicate that performance this week against an even tougher opponent.
Like the Wests Tigers, the Parramatta Eels have already recorded a comprehensive victory against our boys, but this is a different side to the one that the Eels faced earlier in the year.
High on the confidence following consecutive victories and flourishing with the return of Captains Patrick Mago and Luke Bateman, the side is playing the best football they have all year.
Both Bateman and Mago have shown in their brief stint back in the Holden Cup that they would be more than capable of taking the step of playing NRL in the future, with both putting on dominant displays in their last two matches and they look a class above at this grade.
Last week Mitchell Barnett also made his return to the side after a stint with Mounties in the VB NSW Cup and he made his presence known by muscling up in defence. The man he was subbed on for, Jules Webley, left the field injured last week and has failed to recover from injury and will miss the final game of the year.
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He will be replaced by Jamal Nchouki who comes in for this week’s game. It will be a good test for the younger guys in the side to put their best foot forward for next year and show that the Raiders will be on the way up in this competition next year.
We’ve already seen a glimpse of the future in this competition with Lachlan Lewis looking at home at five-eighth and relishing the challenge of leading the side around the park since he made his debut in the Holden Cup halfway through the year.
In recent weeks he has really stepped it up and has formed a dangerous partnership with the ever elusive Matthew Frawley.
Jack Williams was superb again last week and it’s becoming quite hard to believe that he still hasn’t turned 18 yet. He looks set to be a leader amongst this team next year after adapting to the Holden Cup as an under ager.
All eyes will be on Lachlan Hurst to see whether he can claim the leading try scorer award for the year and he will undergo an interesting battle with Eels flyer Halaua Lavaka who is tied on the same number of tries as Hurst for the year.
Hurst has exceeded his own expectations that he set at the start of the year and the modest winger wears his heart on his sleeve and has given 100% in every game this year.
Player to watch – Jack Creith
The talented centre was incredible to watch earlier in the year when he was in full flight, however he suffered an injury mid-season that sort of tailed the middle of his year. He’s finally found the form that made him one of the side’s most consistent performers earlier in the year and has been a catalyst in the side’s last two wins.
The final game for the year against the Parramatta Eels will kick off at 3:15pm at GIO Stadium.