NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Roosters
Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters
Sunday March 29, 2:00pm, Allianz Stadium
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets
Coverage: Live on FOXSports1
Referees: Adam Devcich and Peter Gough
Video Referees: Ashley Klein and Ben Galea
The Canberra Raiders will look to bounce back from an agonizing defeat to the St George Illawarra Dragons when they tackle the Sydney Roosters on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium
For all but the final three minutes of the first half, the Raiders were simply excellent, racing to an 18-0 lead in dominant fashion.
Then, a try to Trent Merrin in the 37th minute, followed by a disappointing second half display which lacked cohesion in attack and desperation in defence, saw the Green Machine fall on their own sword.
What made the loss all the more painful, was the immense promise that the side had portrayed in their previous two encounters.
“Last week was extremely disappointing,” said Dane Tilse, the side’s most current capped player. “We can’t afford to take our foot off the throat of our opponents and think that the job is done. Not until the 80th minute.
“You can’t relax against any team in the NRL and we need to have a long, hard look at ourselves, especially at our defence.
“We’re all hurting from the loss, but we want to move on and make amends this Sunday against the Roosters. I’m confident that we can bounce back.”
Fortunately, the side and the 2015 season are still in its development stage and there is plenty of time to use the pain of the defeat to fuel the fire for improvement over the course of the season.
Canberra only has to look back as recently as last year for inspiration when they face one of the competition’s powerhouses, the Sydney Roosters, at their home ground.
In strikingly similar scenarios, the Raiders were disappointing in their 24-12 loss to the Gold Coast Titans in Round 3, however bounced back with venom the following week when they travelled up to Sydney to defeat eventual premiers, the South Sydney Rabbitohs 30-18.
“That was one of our better performances last year and it just goes to show that we can beat anyone on our day,” said Captain Jarrod Croker.
“It also shows that we need to work hard at minimising the gap between our best and our worst performances and become a more consistent side.
“It will be a tough task for us, but I’m confident that you will see a very hungry and determined Raiders outfit on Sunday!”
In a timely boost for the Green Machine, the team welcomes back the breathtaking attacking talents of Jack Wighton and retains the astounding work-rate of Shaun Fensom after the lock avoided suspension.
The match will be Wighton's 50th in the NRL.
CLICK HERE for the team line- up!
In other team changes, tenacious hooker Glen Buttriss comes into the side in place of Josh McCrone. Buttriss will go head-to-head with former Raider Matt McIlwrick, whilst another former player, Blake Ferguson, is also in the side, adding plenty of extra spice to the encounter.
The Raiders don’t have the best track record at Allianz Stadium, having only won four times from the 20 matches played against the Roosters there, however if there is one man who knows how to win at the venue it is Ricky Stuart, who took the Chooks to premiership glory in 2002.
Jack Wighton v Roger Tuivasa-Scheck
The return of Wighton is a tremendous boost for the Raiders. His sheer presence out the back provides his team mates with a vast amount of confidence.
If Pearce and Maloney’s kicking games aren’t pin-point, then Wighton will punish the boys from Bondi.
Wighton’s individual clash with Tuivasa-Scheck is particularly exciting, and one that is sure to ignite the crowd.
The Roosters custodian has most certainly come out from underneath club great Anthony Minichello’s shadow and has emerged as one of the competition’s most dangerous ball runners in 2015, averaging 216 metres per game.
Jarrod Croker v Blake Ferguson
Regardless of the manner in which he departed this great club, plenty of eyes will be on Blake Ferguson this Sunday.
The former NSW representative was electric in the Roosters’ win over the Panthers last Monday, scoring two slashing tries.
Croker will have to be at his defensive best to contain his former team mate but the side’s leader will be determined to ensure Ferguson does not get the better of him.
Frank-Paul Nuuausala v Dylan Napa
Whilst there are a few former Raiders about to take on their old team mates, Frank-Paul Nuuausala is also about to take on his former team mates – and is looking forward to it!
Nuuasala was let go by the Roosters despite being instrumental in their 2013 Grand Final win, and will be out with a point to prove.
“It was tough having to leave the Roosters, but as they say, when one door closes, another one opens,” Nuuausala said candidly. “I’ve got the opportunity to build something special here with the Raiders.”
Nuuasala will look to add impact from the interchange bench, as will hard-hitting Rooster Dylan Napa. You only have to replay the shot he put on James Segayaro last Monday to know the threat that Napa poses in defence.
Record against the Roosters:
In a total of 58 games against Sydney Roosters, Canberra has won 25 games, lost 32 and drawn on one occasion.
Raiders’ record at Allianz Stadium:
In a total of 20 games played at Allianz Stadium, the Raiders have won on just four occasions.
Last three encounters:
1. Roosters defeated Raiders 26-12 at Allianz Stadium in Round 12, 2014
2. Roosters defeated Raiders 28-22 at Allianz Stadium in Round 22, 2013
3. Raiders defeated Roosters 24-22 at GIO Stadium in Round 5, 2013
HE SAID IT
Glen Buttriss: “I’m very excited and grateful to get the opportunity this weekend. I plan on making the most of my opportunity so I can keep my place in the side for the rest of the year.”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Buttriss.
Jarrad Kennedy: ““I’m very excited to re-sign with the club for a further two years. I see the Raiders as not just a football club but as a part of my family now. Canberra is my home and I’m I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Kennedy.
Edrick Lee: “I don’t mind playing at centre or wing; I’ll play wherever Ricky thinks that I will best serve the team!”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Lee.
Sisa Waqa: “The knee feels much better; I’m good to go this Sunday against the Roosters!”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Waqa.
Author: Simon McGuinness