NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Broncos

Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos

Saturday May 30, 5:30pm, GIO Stadium

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Coverage: TV: Foxsports 1. Radio: ABC, Triple M (Brisbane)

Referees: Gavin Badger and Chris Sutton

Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Phillips

The Canberra Raiders went within a whisker of pulling off the greatest comeback in the club’s illustrious history last weekend against the Bulldogs, and whilst he is proud of the fighting spirit that his team portrayed, Captain Jarrod Croker was left to lament one sole statistic from the match.

The missed opportunity of securing two precious competition points.

“You can take positives out of the comeback, but at the end of the day it’s a disappointing loss for us,” Croker said.

“We missed out on two valuable competition points and at the end of the day, that’s the major thing that counts.”

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that the catalyst for the loss was the lacklustre start to the match by the Green Machine, which resulted in a 26-0 deficit after just 15 minutes.

Therefore, starting the match strongly as well as improving the side’s on-line defence has been a major focus during the week at training.

Canberra headed into the match against Canterbury as firm favourites, largely due to the absence of the Bulldogs’ State of Origin quartet.

The absence of those representative stars mattered little in the end though and as a result, the potential fatigue or withdrawals of the Broncos’ six State of Origin stars is not in the mindset of the Raiders players whatsoever.

"The result on the weekend against the Bulldogs goes to show you that anything can happen during the Origin period," Josh Hodgson said.

"The depth of each club over here is phenomenal and whether those six players are in or out this weekend is the furthest thing from our minds. We're bracing for an extremely tough game against a formidable opponent."

The loss to the Bulldogs saw the Raiders slip out of the top eight, however a win over the second placed Broncos will see the Green Machine, pending the outcome of the four clubs above on the ladder, return to the top eight.

In a boost for the Canberra’s fortunes, Jack Wighton and Sam Williams return to the Raiders line-up.

Unfortunately though, man-mountain Shannon Boyd has succumbed to a cheekbone injury and will be replaced by Kyle O’Donnell whom has been in good form for Mounties.

CLICK HERE for the team line-up! 

KEY MATCHUPS

Jack Wighton v Darius Boyd

Wighton’s return to the side gives the Raiders a fresh injection of confidence given the talent and communication that he provides from the back.

“Jack’s an immensely talented player and it’s a very exciting and reassuring thing having him in the same team as you,” Josh Hodgson said.

Similarly, Boyd’s return to the field following an Achilles injury just a fortnight ago has enhanced the Broncos’ play substantially with his representative experience and ball-playing ability assisting the side, especially their young halves, a great deal.

Wighton averages 152 metres per game, whilst Boyd averages 142 metres per game.

Blake Austin v Anthony Milford

Round 12 sees the return of Milford to GIO Stadium for the first time since departing the Raiders last year.

Whilst that matter has been long forgotten, the fact remains that stopping Milford will be crucial for preventing a victory to the Broncos.

Milford’s loss has been eased in 2015 due to the sensational form of new recruit Blake Austin, who he will square off against on Saturday evening.

Austin’s six tries and nine line breaks put him calculations for a NSW Blues jersey and he will again be highly influential to securing the two competition points for the Raiders.

Shaun Fensom v Corey Parker

It’s the battle many fantasy coaches have been looking forward to all year; the battle between two of the greatest fantasy players of the modern era, Fensom v Parker!

Fensom delivered his best performance of the year against the Bulldogs last weekend, scoring a try, running for 178 metres, topping the tackle count with 55 and throwing three creative offloads for good measure.

Parker has consistently been one of Brisbane’s top performers this year, averaging 36 tackles and proving to be a regular handful with the ball in hand in the centre of the field.

Despite playing in Game 1 of the State of Origin series on Wednesday, Raiders fans should expect Parker to be at the forefront of Brisbane’s assault.

STAT ATTACK

Record against the Broncos:

In a total of 47 games against Brisbane, Canberra has won 19 games, lost 27 and drawn on one occasions.

Broncos record at GIO Stadium:

In a total of 22 games played at GIO Stadium, Brisbane has won 12 games, lost 9 and drawn on one occasion.

Last three encounters:

1.        Broncos defeated Raiders 28-4 at GIO Stadium in Round 13, 2014

2.        Raiders defeated Broncos 30-18 at GIO Stadium in Round 23, 2013

3.        Raiders defeated Broncos 28-12 at GIO Stadium in Round 22, 2012


HE SAID IT

Kurt Baptiste: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of coming up against my former team, the Brisbane Broncos. It will be a big game for me personally, but the main thing is getting the team back on track.”  

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Baptiste.

Jarrod Croker: “I gave special mention to the crowd after the game because honestly, it was unbelievable. I haven't felt something like that at GIO Stadium since the Sharks semi-final in 2012. The fans were so loud and they were a massive part in getting us back into the game. Hopefully all of our fans get out to the game again on Saturday and give it to the Broncos!"  

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Croker.

Shaun Fensom: “It’s not good enough to leak 26 consecutive points at the start of the match. It’s all well and good to be able to score tries, but we’ve got to work on stopping them as well.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Fensom.

Josh Hodgson: “It’s great to have Sammy Williams back in the team. He’s only young but he plays with a lot of maturity and marshals us around the park well. He will be a big boost for us.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Hodgson.