NRL Match Preview: raiders v Sea Eagles

Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles

Sunday August 16, 2:00pm, GIO Stadium

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Coverage: Live on FOXSports1

Referees: Matt Checchin and Matt Noyen

Video Referees: Shayne Hayne and Luke Phillips

They’ve sure made it hard for themselves, but the Canberra Raiders still remain a mathematical chance of making the semi-finals, although it will be one hell of an uphill battle for the Green Machine.

Following the disappointing loss to the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium, Canberra is now issued with the task of having to win all of their remaining games to even give themselves a chance of securing a place in the semi-finals.

But even that may not be enough to secure a spot in the playoffs; the results of the other semi-final aspirants have to fall in favour of the Raiders.

Despite the difficulty of their assignment at hand, there remains hope within the ranks of Raiders HQ. Hope and a great deal of pride in that famous lime green jersey.

“The Tigers loss hurt a lot but we’ve got to put it behind us straight away because there’s still some hope left for us this year,” Jack Wighton said.

“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position and each game now is a must-win for us. We’ve got the belief that we can still make the semi-finals though but we’ve just got to concentrate on taking it each week as it comes, and that starts this Sunday.”

Standing in the way of Canberra’s fortunes this Sunday are the in-form Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, who are striving for their third win in a row.

Although the form of Manly has the other premiership contenders looking over their shoulders, the Raiders can take confidence from their prior outing against the Sea Eagles in which they triumphed 29-16.

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Manly is currently situated in 9th position on the ladder and just two points outside of the top eight. A win over the Sea Eagles will not only strengthen the Raiders’ own semi-finals goals, but weaken that of one of their semi-finals competitors.

The Sea Eagles have won only three from their 11 away games this year however the Raiders have unfortunately only one twice from their 10 fixtures at GIO Stadium, the venue for this Sunday’s clash.

“They’ve all been very close losses at GIO Stadium but it’s just frustrating for us and the fans that we’re not getting the results there,” Paul Vaughan said. “We love it when our fans turn out in numbers and it’s been really upsetting to have not been able to reward them with some wins there.”

In team changes, Joseph Leilua will miss this week’s match after being suspended for a shoulder charge. His place at right centre will be taken by Sisa Waqa, who shifts in from the wing, with Edrick Lee returning on the flank from suspension.

CLICK HERE for the team line- up! 

KEY MATCHUPS

Sam Williams v Daly Cherry-Evans

Williams was the first to admit that his performance against the Tigers wasn’t amongst his seasons best and he’ll be keen to make amends for that this Sunday. The Raiders are at their best when Williams is controlling the game for the team, which allows Blake Austin to become more of a running five-eighth.

Williams kicking game is crucial for the Raiders in terms of gaining field position and with support from Austin and Hooker Josh Hodgson, he will be looking to make sure Manly are starting their sets deep in their own territory.

With Sia Soliola out for the rest of the season Williams may be forced to shoulder some more defensive work, however Mitch Barnett showed last weekend he’ll be there to help out his halfback.

Cherry-Evans seems to have settled back into his best form now the contract saga that has engulfed his season is behind him, so look for him to be a key for Manly on Sunday. His kicking game is amongst the best in the NRL, while his vision in attack keeps defensive lines in two minds.

The player who works his team around the park the best will help determine the winner.

Frank-Paul Nuuausala v Jake Trbojevic

Old bull v Young bull with the experienced Nuuausala up against the exciting manly rookie. Nuuausala looks more comfortable starting the game for the Raiders and gives Paul Vaughan an opportunity to make an impact from the interchange bench.

Nuuausala only played 30 minutes against the Tigers, so expect him to be fresher and more mobile this weekend. The Raiders go forward was at its best earlier in the season when Nuuausala was dominating and more involvement from the former Kiwi international will only help the team in this area.

Trbojevic is the prototype of the modern day front rower, a mobile player at just over 100kg with the footwork of a lock or back rower. He’s been the starring forward for the Sea Eagles in recent weeks and ran for over 146m against South Sydney last weekend. With Willie Mason sidelined with suspension he’ll be even more important for Manly on Sunday.

Jarrad Kennedy v Michael Chee-Kam

With fairly even match-ups across the starting sides the benches could play a huge role on Sunday, with one of the most important contests coming between two players who have come through the Raiders junior system.

Jarrad Kennedy has been the Raidres utility all season and has been called upon to fill a multitude of roles, with his versality giving Coach Ricky Stuart coverage for his forwards and outside backs. Kennedy’s high work rate allows other forwards to be more effective in attack, as he gets involved defensively.

Chee-Kam is a Raiders junior who starred for the team at NYC level before heading to the Northern Beaches. It’s taken him two years to establish himself in the Manly team and although he’s departing the club at the end of the season for the Tigers, he’ll be keen to finish his time with the Sea Eagles on a high.

Raider’s fans will remember Chee-Kam as a talented edge player who has pace and footwork, so the Raiders will need to make sure they don’t give him too much room to move. 

STAT ATTACK

Record against the Sea Eagles:

In a total of 48 games against Manly, Canberra has won 18 games, lost 29 and drawn on one occasion.

Sea Eagles record at GIO Stadium:

In a total of 12 games played at GIO Stadium, Manly has won five games and lost on seven occaisions.

Last three encounters:

1.        Raiders defeated Sea Eagles 29-16 at Lavington Sports Ground in Round 5, 2015

2.        Sea Eagles defeated Raiders 54-18 at Brookvale Oval in Round 8, 2014

3.        Sea Eagles defeated Raiders 36-22 at GIO Stadium in Round 24, 2013


HE SAID IT

Blake Austin: “I was well below par on the weekend and I need to be a lot better this Sunday against Manly. I need to take more responsibility and drive Ricky’s game plan out on the field.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Austin.

Mitch Barnett: “It was a dream come true to debut for the Raiders. I just want to keep working hard not to make sure that I keep my spot in the team for the rest of the year.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Barnett.

Paul Vaughan: “Josh adds a lot to our team at hooker and is an important member of the team. As a front-rower you always want to build up a combination with your hooker and all of the front-rowers in the team absolutely love playing with Joshy.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Vaughan.

Jack Wighton: “Each week I’m starting to find a little bit of improvement in myself as a fullback and that’s a reward for working hard at training in the new position. The hard work is starting to pay off. I love playing fullback and I want to make the position mine for the rest of my career.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Wighton.