NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Tigers

Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers

Sunday April 19, 2:00pm, Leichhardt Oval

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Coverage: Foxsports 1

Referees: Henry Perenara and Jon Stone

Video Referees: Matt Checchin and Luke Patten

With the exception of the loss to the Roosters, the Raiders have been vastly impressive on the road so far in 2015, and the Green Machine will look to continue this trend against the Wests Tigers on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval.

The Raiders two victories this year have been away fixtures, with the side defeating Cronulla in Sydney and Manly in Albury.

Both Canberra and Wests are coming off a loss, however there were plenty of positives derived from the Raiders’ narrow loss to the Melbourne Storm.

The Raiders played tremendous tenacious football in the first half to eventually take a 10-2 lead into the sheds at half-time before eventually succumbing to the second placed Storm by four points.

In two of the four losses Canberra has suffered this year, the Raiders have led at half-time. A third time, they were tied 6-all with the Warriors.

Senior forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala believes that if the side can replicate the energy, creativity and tenacity that they portrayed in the first half for the entire 80 minutes, then they will be a force to be reckoned with.

“We did very well in the first half last week, as we have done for most of the year, but we fell away in the second half again and that is something that we need to address,” Nuuausala said.

“We can’t rely on our lead. We need to keep chancing our arm in attack and continue to take risks. We discussed that in our review and we’ll look to improve this week against the Tigers.

“What’s positive though is that there is plenty of effort there and we are on the right track!”

The Raiders faced an uphill battle in the second half when star forwards Shaun Fensom and Josh Hodgson were taken off early with injuries.

Fortunately, both players have recovered and have been named to play by Coach Ricky Stuart.

CLICK HERE for the team line- up! 

The Tigers were defeated 32-22 by the New Zealand Warriors last week, but Canberra knows all too well that they will be hard to beat at Leichhardt Oval.

Leichhardt Oval, along with Campbelltown Stadium, is the spiritual home of the Tigers and is renowned throughout the competition as being an extremely hard place to win at, particularly on a Sunday afternoon.

“It’s going to be good to come up against my old club, I’m looking forward to it,” former Tiger Blake Austin said with a wry smile. “I know how much the boys love to play at Leichhardt Oval and it’s the first time this year that they’ve played there so it will be a big occasion out there, but one that we’ll be ready for.”

It will be Austin’s first game against the Tigers since joining the Raiders for the 2015 season. The star five-eighth says he is keenly anticipating taking on his former team mates but has also warned his new team mates of the talent that the 8th placed side has at their disposal.

A win over the Tigers will be crucial for the Raiders in their bid to not lose pace with the other top eight contenders. Canberra is currently situated in 15th place on the ladder and one of four teams tied on four competition points.

“Our goal is to make the top eight this year and we don’t want to fall away from the pack this early on,” Austin said. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves later in the year. We want consistency and we’re confident in each other and in Ricky’s game plans.”

KEY MATCHUPS

Blake Austin v Mitch Moses

As mentioned earlier, this will be the first time that Austin takes on his former side, and the evasive pivot is looking forward to the occasion.

Austin was let go by the Tigers in favour of the young combination of Moses and Brooks.

Let’s face it; their loss is our overwhelming gain. Austin has been simply tremendous in 2015 and will again be a focal and decisive point of the side’s attack.

The Doonside Roos junior plays with plenty of emotion and adrenaline and those elements will be set to high on Sunday afternoon as Austin has a point to prove.

Paul Vaughan v Aaron Woods

Vaughan has picked up from where he left off last year and has been consistently among the Raiders’ top forwards.

The Gungahlin Bulls junior averages 162 metres and 21 tackles per game; figures which convey just how influential Vaughan is to the team from the interchange bench.

Vaughan has been touted as a future NSW Origin representative and it will be a great opportunity for the 23 year old to push his case forward when he comes up against current NSW and Australian front-rower Aaron Woods.

The Balmain junior loves playing at Leichhardt and is the heartbeat of the Tigers’ forward pack averaging 180 metres and 26 tackles per match.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala v Martin Tapau

The clash between these two powerful Kiwi colossuses is sure to be a barrage of bruising hits, inspirational charges and rousing applause from an appreciative crowd.

Nuuausala and Tapau leave nothing in the tank when the full-time siren sounds. When on the field, the pair fearsomely tears into the opposition with no mercy which inspires their fellow forwards incredibly.

Both are leaders of their respective sides and know that containing one another will do a great deal to allow their forward pack to gain the upper hand.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking on Marty,” Nuuausala said. “He’s been going well and I know that Jason Taylor loves his forwards to dominate their opponents through power so we’ll have to keep an eye on Marty.”

STAT ATTACK

Record against the Tigers:

In a total of 30 games against Wests, Canberra has won 11 games, lost 17 and drawn on two occasions.

Raiders record at Leichhardt Oval:

In a total of 3 games played at Leichhardt Oval, Canberra has won on one occasion and lost twice.

Last three encounters:

1.        Raiders defeated Tigers 27-12 at GIO Stadium in Round 25, 2014

2.        Tigers defeated Raiders 19-18 at Campbelltown Stadium in Round 16, 2014

3.        Tigers defeated Raiders 17-12 at Campbelltown Stadium in Round 15, 2013


HE SAID IT

Blake Austin: “My combination with Sam is coming along well and I’m happy with how we’re going. The biggest thing for me is the clarity of where I’m going to play each week. I’m not naïve to the fact that I’ve got a lot to work on as a number six but I’m loving playing at this club and improving under Ricky.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Austin.

Edrick Lee: “The start of the season was a bit slow for me. I haven’t played many games over the last couple of years due to injury but I’m aiming to improve every game and regain my mojo.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Lee.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala: “We know that our second half performances have been letting us down and we are working hard to rectify that because we’re don’t want to lose out on any more valuable competition points.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Nuuausala.