NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Titans

Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans

Saturday August 23, 2:00pm, CBUS Super Stadium

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Coverage: Foxsports 1

Referees: Gavin Reynolds and Jon Stone

Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Phillips

Whilst their home record has been frustrating – for both the players and for the fans – the Canberra Raiders will look to continue their impressive form on the road as they travel up to CBUS Super Stadium in an ttempt to arrest a three match losing streak.

The Green Machine has won six from their 10 away matches in 2015 which bodes well for the side to turn around their run of losses given that the Titans have won just three from their 10 matches at home this year.

The last of those three losses left the Raiders severely gutted.

There was anger and frustration at the incorrect refereeing decision to award Manly the match-winning try when fullback Brett Stewart was clearly offside in the lead up, but ultimately it was anger and frustration at themselves for putting them in that position.

“It’s frustrating when the referees boss comes out after the game and admits that it was a wrong call but at the end of the day we can’t change that result,” Jarrad Kennedy said.

“To be honest we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position anyway.”

Whilst their finals ambitions have been painfully all but evaporated, the Green Machine does not want to drop their standards during the final three games. Not one iota.

Aside from two blow-out defeats throughout the entire season, the Raiders have displayed tremendous fighting spirit, improvement and promise in every game of 2015.

The Green Machine has lost seven close encounters by four points or less this season, and if only two or three of those excruciatingly close losses had gone the other way, then the Raiders would be firmly entrenched in the top eight.

Nonetheless, you won’t hear any of the players nor staff making any excuses.

The club will learn from these lessons and continue to transform themselves into a force to be reckoned with in the future.

“We’ve had quite a few tough losses this year and the talk is that if we had won just half of those we’d be close to the top four but we can’t do anything about that now,” Kennedy said.

“We’re still learning as a team and we just want to go into the next three rounds with the aim to show ourselves and our supporters what we can really do.

“We’re not just there to go through the motions in the next three rounds, we want to show everybody what type of football team we are and what we’re building towards for the future.”

For now though, the Raiders want to finish the season off with three wins from as many games and it starts this Sunday against the Titans.

Gold Coast is coming off back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs and Storm but will be determined to also finish the year off on a positive note in front of their home fans.

The two sides have met previously this year in Round 9 in which the Raiders thrashed the Titans 56-16 at GIO Stadium.

CLICK HERE to see the Match Highlights from Round 9!

In team changes, Joey Leilua returns to the side following the suspension of Jordan Rapana. Leilua will play centre with Sisa Waqa shifting out to the win.

Promising forward Luke Bateman also returns to the NRL for the first time since Round 12. Bateman comes into the side for Mitch Barnett with Jarrad Kennedy being elevated to the starting back-row.

CLICK HERE for the team line- up! 

For the Titans, they will be without their regular halves pairing of Aiden Sezer and Kane Elgey however forwards Nate Myles, Ryan James and hooker Kieran Moseley will make their returns.

KEY MATCHUPS

Jarrod Croker v James Roberts

It doesn’t get any easier for Jarrod Croker this week. After a tough dual with Jamie Lyon in Round 23, the Raiders Captain now takes on the blistering excitement machine that is James Roberts, in what shapes as an enticing individual match-up in the centres.

Lyon got the better of Croker last week with the experienced campaigner crossing for two tries and contributing to five missed tackles for the Goulburn junior.

Croker will need to be at his defensive best against the electric Roberts this Sunday.

In his breakthrough season in the NRL, Roberts has compiled 16 tries, 13 line breaks and averages over 100 metres per match

Croker, who has scored eight tries in 2015, had a field day earlier this year against the Titans and will be looking to replicate that performance.

On that day in Round 9, Croker registered a personal points haul of 24 through two tries and eight conversions.

Paul Vaughan v Nate Myles

The Titans received a humongous boost leading into the clash with the Raiders with the news that forwards Nate Myles and Ryan James will be returning.

Myles, along with Greg Bird, are the leaders of the Gold Coast outfit and his naming at prop will give the Titans’ young forwards a fresh injection of confidence and simultaneously have the Canberra forward pack put on notice.

Fortunately for the Green Machine, the in-form Paul Vaughan has recovered from his ankle injury and will take his place on the bench.

The Country representative has been one of the Raiders best in every game this year averaging 141 metres and 23 tackles per game.

If Vaughan was to have missed this contest then it would have left a huge hole in Canberra’s line-up.

Shaun Fensom v Greg Bird

Fensom was at his herculean best in the last minute loss to Manly last weekend and the proud clubman will be looking to use the hurt derived from that loss as motivation to finish the season off on a positive note.

The dual Meninga Medallist ran for 180 metres and made 45 tackles (his average count for 2015) against the Sea Eagles to be named as Player’s Player.

Fensom is the heart and soul of the Raiders and he will go head-to-head with a player who has a similar standing for the Titans in Greg Bird.

Unfortunately for the Gold Coast, Bird has only played in 11 games this year due to injury and suspension however he has most certainly made his presence felt in each game averaging 124 metres in attack and 28 tackles in defence, whilst remaining a constant creative threat with his 19 offloads.

STAT ATTACK

Record against the Titans:

In a total of 16 games against the Gold Coast, Canberra has won 7 games and lost 9.

Raiders record at CBUS Super Stadium Stadium:

In a total of 7 games played at CBUS Super Stadium, Canberra has won on 2 occasions and lost on 5.

Last three encounters:

1.        Raiders defeated Titans 56-16 at GIO Stadium in Round 9, 2015

2.        Raiders defeated Titans 36-20 at CBUS Super Stadium in Round 18, 2014

3.        Titans defeated Raiders 24-12 at GIO Stadium in Round 3, 2014


HE SAID IT

Jarrod Croker: “Sia Soliola has been a big loss for us. He’s one of our leaders on and off the field and people outside of the club don’t realise how influential he is until he’s actually gone. He leads by the example.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Croker.

Jarrad Kennedy: “Despite their position on the ladder the Titans can be a very dangerous team. James Roberts in particular is just electric and we’ll have to watch him closely and defend against him in numbers.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Kennedy.

Sam Williams: “We’re still learning as we are a pretty young group but we’ve definitely grown as a team. I think we can safely say that we’re a better team than what we were at the start of the season. We’ve taken a lot of steps in the right direction.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Williams.