CANBERRA RAIDERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
SATURDAY AUGUST 1, 3.15PM, 1300 SMILES STADIUM
The Canberra Raiders Holden side were handed a thrashing by the top of the table Penrith Panthers last weekend, and their job won’t get any easier this weekend up in Townsville against the second placed North Queensland Cowboys.
With the competition being so close in 2015, a loss this weekend could see the fourth placed Green Machine plummet to the brink of the top eight, however a win against the Cowboys would go a long way towards Canberra not only securing a top eight finish at season's end, but also to stay in the hunt for a top four finish.
The side has proven in the past they have what it takes to match it with the top teams in the Holden Cup, evidenced by their 48-40 win nine weeks ago against the then top of the table, Brisbane Broncos.
Brett Soloman, current lock for the NYC side, believes that whilst this upcoming game will be tough for the side, they feel as though they will have enough motivation to bounce back from the embarrassing defeat to the Panthers and come away with the win.
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“It’s going to be a challenge for us but I think the boys are up for it to redeem ourselves for last weekend,” Soloman said.
“Obviously facing the Cowboys, they’re going to want to come through our middle again so it will be a big game for myself and the other forwards. If we manage to beat their forwards and give our backs some space we can win.”
Defence has always been a key area that Canberra wanted to focus on throughout 2015. Soloman said that whilst last week’s defensive effort was poor, the group is working hard to fix their errors.
And they will need to if they are to give themselves any chance of trumping the second placed Cowboys.
North Queensland has currently scored the most points in the competition, entailing that this weekend will have to be one of the best defensive efforts of the season from the Green Machine if they want to come away with the two points.
“We’ve been working on our defence all year, but last week let us down so defence is going to be a key focus point this week,” Solomon said.
“If we can stop the momentum of North Queensland’s big boys as well as slow the ruck down it will help us hopefully get the win.”
Every game from here until finals almost feels as if its knockout football with how close the ladder is, given that there is only four points separating fourth and 11th position. Solomon was adamant that this game was their chance to prove to themselves that they can hold their own with the best in the competition.
“Obviously this game is very important. A couple of losses and we could end up seeing ourselves out of the finals,” the Queanbeyan Roos junior said.
“We need to win this game to keep our confidence up and know that we can compete against the best in the competition, we’ve done it before against the Broncos.
“We lost previously to the Cowboys [38-16 in Round 15] and this game is obviously one we want to get back on them.”
With the boys from North Queensland currently fielding one of the biggest packs in the Holden Cup, the efforts of forwards such as Solomon will be essential towards gaining the upper hand.
“I want to bring the aggression, dominate my position in the forwards and get the momentum moving forward in attack, whilst stopping their momentum in defence,” the NSW Under 16’s representative said.
“My focus this weekend is to simply get over the North Queensland Cowboys forward pack.”