Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans
Saturday May 9, 3:00pm, GIO Stadium
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Coverage: Foxsports 1
Referees: Grant Atkins and Chris Sutton
Video Referees: Ashley Klein and Ben Galea
The Canberra Raiders will be striving to continue their stellar form of late with a third consecutive win when they face the Gold Coast Titans at home on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the representative round, the Green Machine was on a roll with marvellous come-from-behind victories over the West Tigers and the defending premiers the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
A cause for concern will be whether the representative round came at the wrong time, halting any momentum that the Raiders had built up.
Blake Austin, who starred for City with a hat-trick of tries, refutes this claim wholeheartedly.
“I don’t think that there will be any reason to worry about the representative weekend ruining our run of good form,” Austin said.
“If anything I think it may help us out. The break allowed the boys to rest any niggling injuries and for the boys that did play in the rep games, the likes of myself, Toots [Jarrod Croker], Jacko [Wighton], Vaughany and even Boydy as 18th man, we’ve all come back full of confidence from the week.
“Vaughany was really strong up front, Crokes and Jack were impressive out wide and I thought Boydy was unlucky not to get a run.
“For me personally, it was my first taste of senior rep football and I took a lot of confidence away from the week and I can’t wait to bring that back to the Raiders and continue my form.”
The triumphs over the Tigers and the Rabbitohs both occurred on the road however this Saturday will see the Raiders return to GIO Stadium.
Despite several close encounters, Canberra is yet to secure a win at home thus far in 2015 and Country representative forward Paul Vaughan says that the players are determined to put on a good show for all of the fans in the crowd, especially all of the wonderful Mothers, given that Mother’s Day is the following day.
There will be a special moment prior to kick-off with the mothers of all of the players invited into the sheds to be with their sons as they are addressed by Coach Ricky Stuart for the final team talk.
The mothers will then be walked out by Football Manager John Bonasera to line the tunnel as the players run out onto the field.
“Having my mother in the sheds with me and then in the tunnel as I run out will be very emotional for me,” said Vaughan, who will play his 50th NRL game on Saturday. “She’s my number one supporter and has done so much for me throughout my life.
“I’ll be doing my best to help her celebrate Mother’s Day with a Raiders win and I know that the rest of the players will be aiming to do the same; not just for our mums but for all of the mums in the crowd at GIO Stadium.”
Assisting the continuity of the Raiders’ prior form is the fact that Stuart has been able to select the same side after elusive winger Jordan Rapana successfully recovered from a cheekbone injury.
CLICK HERE for the team line- up!
The Titans will be without the services of representative back-rower Greg Bird and hooker Beau Falloon however these losses are compensated by the returns of Maroons wrecking ball Dave Taylor and creative utility Daniel Mortimer.
Sisa Waqa v James Roberts
Roberts has set the NRL alight this year with his red-hot form catching the eyes of representative selectors and allowing him to snare his maiden representative jumper for City.
The 22 year old is lightning quick and a noted try scorer having netted nine tries in just eight appearances. To top it off, Roberts has increased his involvement considerably this year, averaging 120 metres per game.
Roberts will go head-to-head with Sisa Waqa in an individual battle that will accentuate the outstanding athleticism of the NRL’s outside backs.
Waqa has been a terrific acquisition to the Raiders this year and has added a new element to the side’s attacking structure be it with ball in hand or in the air. It is his defensive game that must be set to top gear this Saturday however otherwise Roberts will have a field day.
Blake Austin v Aidan Sezer
Raiders’ fans will be watching the performance of Aiden Sezer very closely after the Titans’ five-eighth signed a three year deal with the Green Machine from 2016 onwards.
The Raiders players and coaching staff will be watching the talented pivot for an entirely different reason though given how influential Sezer is to the Gold Coast’s attacking structure.
On the other side of the coin, Austin will be looking to continue his stellar form of late for the Raiders and in worrying signs for the Titans, he has come back to Canberra full of confidence and renewed vigour following his three try haul for City.
Josh Papalii v Dave Taylor
Both Papalii and Taylor will be looking to prove the Australian selectors wrong after the two bullocking forwards were left out of Tim Sheens’ top 17.
Not only this, Papalii and Taylor will also be out to impress the Maroons selectors to ensure that they are picked for the opening round of the State of Origin series.
On his day, there are few more damaging ball runners than Taylor in full flight and the Raiders defence will have to meet him in numbers and with quick speed to prevent him from fully winding up.
Papalii was exceptional against Souths a fortnight ago, scoring a try, running for over 100 metres and registering 30 bruising tackles. A similar performance by the Souths Logan junior will go a long way to helping secure the two points for the Green Machine.
Record against the Titans:
In a total of 15 games against the Gold Coast, Canberra has won 6 games and lost 9.
Titans record at GIO Stadium:
In a total of 7 games played at GIO Stadium, the Gold Coast has won on 3 occasions and lost on four.
Last three encounters:
1. Raiders defeated Titans 36-20 at CBUS Super Stadium in Round 18, 2014
2. Titans defeated Raiders 24-12 at GIO Stadium in Round 3, 2014
3. Titans defeated Raiders 36-0 at CBUS Super Stadium in Round 2, 2013
HE SAID IT
Blake Austin: “I actually roomed with James Roberts in the City camp and there was plenty of banter going on during the week. We’ll have to watch him carefully because everybody knows how well he moves on his feet.”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Austin.
Paul Vaughan: “We want three wins in a row and our fans deserve to see a win at home. They’re such passionate fans and we want to see as many of them out there as possible on Saturday afternoon!”
CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Vaughan.