CANBERRA RAIDERS V CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS
SATURDAY JULY 18, 10.40AM, GIO STADIUM
The Canberra Raiders Holden Cup side will be looking to record their third win in a row when they come up against the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday morning at GIO Stadium.
The Green Machine has climbed to 4th place on the ladder in recent weeks after impressive wins over the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights.
Cronulla on the other hand has slipped to 13th on the ladder with their last victory coming in Round 15, coincidentally against the Knights.
Despite the Sharks' standing on the ladder, Canberra is preparing for a tough encounter given that the Raiders only escaped with a 34-32 victory in Round 1 after a last minute penalty goal by Lachlan Croker, who is unfortunately out for the year with injury.
Raiders Captain Luke Bateman missed the prior clash between the two sides but was a keen observer from the sidelines as he prepared for his first grade debut.
“It will be a tough game for us even though they are below us on the ladder,” Bateman said. “They are a quick team and they bring a lot of intensity into the game. They will come at us fast and they have some really quick outside backs so I imagine they will be spreading the ball early and looking to beat us around the edge.
“We need to focus on completing our sets and having each individual taking accountability for their actions.”
Already one of the premier players in the competition, Bateman will head into the match with a fresh injection of confidence having played for the Queensland Under 20’s side, in what was a curtain raiser for the main event last Wednesday.
“It was unreal,” Bateman said. “It was my third year so I knew what to expect but it’s a great privilege to make the team again and a great honour to be able to represent your state.
“It was a really high intensity game and probably not that far off an NRL game. Being a part of that game does give you an extra spring in your step when you return to play for your club.”
In team changes, the Green Machine will go into the clash without the destructive services of front-rower Tevita Pangai Junior who has been called up into the Mounties NSW Cup squad. To accommodate Pangai Junior’s absence, utility Cleveland McGhie moves into the front-row to partner Morgan Boyle.
Thomas Cronan also returns from injury and takes his place on the wing at the expense of Lachlan Hurst.
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