CANBERRA RAIDERS V NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
FRIDAY JULY 10, 5.30PM, GIO STADIUM
The Canberra Raiders under 20’s side is heading into the Round 18 clash against the Newcastle Knights at GIO Stadium fresh from having the bye last weekend and determined to further their 7th place standing.
The young Raiders are travelling along nicely at the moment and will be high on confidence following their Round 16 victory over the 4th placed New Zealand Warriors across the ditch.
One of the most consistent performers from the side of late, and a star in the win over the Warriors, is Zac Woolford, son of former Raiders Captain and 234 game club stalwart Simon Woolford,.
Woolford junior spoke to Raiders.com.au during the week and he gave insight into how he has remained so consistent throughout the season.
“By staying on top of the little things,” Woolford said. “It’s a matter of going to training every week and working on what Whitey (Assistant Coach Brett White) and Mick (Coach Mick Mantelli) tell me to and then doing that out in the game and continuing it the next week.”
Woolford also said that he was happy to take on extra responsibility in 2015 such as being an on field leader.
“I’m happy to take on that sort of role anytime I am asked to,” Woolford said. “Everyone knows around here that I love to talk and that I’m a bit of a motor-mouth and I suppose that’s always good in a game scenario when everyone is looking for someone to lift us up. I am happy to take the responsibility.”
Woolford said that the victory over New Zealand away from home has really lifted the team’s level of confidence.
“That was massive for us,” the Queanbeyan Blues junior said. “We were a bit down on self-belief going into the New Zealand game after a pretty tough loss to North Queensland and we had also lost one of our Captains, Lachlan Croker, for the rest of the year with injury. It was tough to go over there without those big names so to get the win was massive for the team.”
In their clash with the Knights earlier in the year in Round 13, the Raiders lost by just one point up at Hunter Stadium and Woolford expects the Newcastle side to be coming down with plenty of confidence because of that.
Newcastle will also be hungry for a repeat victory given that they are sitting just two points outside of the top eight in 9th position.
“They will probably bring a lot of enthusiasm,” Woolford said. “They will come down here knowing that they beat us in our last game and they will be out to do it again and will come out firing looking to get another win against us.
“We will be equally fired up though because that loss hurt us. We will be ready this time and we will be out for revenge!”
In their win over the Warriors, the Green Machine were able to get away to a quick lead and if they are able to do that again this week and match that with the defensive resolve they demonstrated at crucial times in the second half, then they will be well placed to come out on top.
In team changes, Canberra welcomes back Tevita Pangai Junior who played for Mounties last weekend and Dylan McGrath shifts into the halfback role which allows Jack Hickson to move back out to the wing.
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