Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers

Monday August 31, 7:00pm, GIO Stadium

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!

Coverage: Foxsports 1

Referees: Henry Perenara and Jon Stone

Video Referees:  Gerard Sutton and Steve Folkes

In what has been a roller coaster year for the Green Machine, the team will look to put aside their disappointing form of late and pay tribute to their Members and fans with a victory over the Penrith Panthers in what will be the final game at GIO Stadium in 2015.

Unfortunately, most of the highs in 2015 have been experienced on the road with the Raiders having an away record of six wins from 11 matches, whilst having a dismal home record of just two wins from the 11 times the Green Machine has run out onto the hallowed turf of GIO Stadium.

Unable to make the semi-finals following their four match losing streak, the Raiders will now look to end the season on a positive note for their Members, in what is themed as Member’s Appreciation Round, and to build into what promises to be an exciting 2016 campaign.

“Ultimately we fell painfully short of our goal of making the semi-finals this year, but that will make us hungrier for success in 2016 to make our loyal Members proud,” Ricky Stuart said.

“This season has been full of ups and admittedly a few downs but as a whole I am proud of the efforts of everyone involved in this great club.

“We have come ahead in leaps and bounds in a short time and I am confident of the success that we will have ahead of ourselves in the not too distant future if we stay in the right direction.

“For now though, Monday night’s match against the Panthers serves as a great way for us to thank each and every one of our 10,000 plus Members for being with us every step of the way in 2015. Their support has been wonderful for us and it’s a shame that we haven’t had more success at home this year”

Ironically, the last victory the Raiders enjoyed was against the Panthers at Pepper Stadium back in Round 20.

CLICK HERE to see the Round 20 Match Highlights.

Since then, both sides have registered disappointing results although the Panthers possess the better record having won one from four.

Both clubs are locked on 20 competition points however Canberra sits one position higher than Penrith in 12th spot due to their superior for-and-against record.

Whilst a win over their 1990 and 1991 Grand Final combatants will see the Raiders skip clear on the competition ladder and avoid the dreaded wooden spoon, it will also put them in front historically.

Interestingly, both clubs, whom have enjoyed several memorable clashes over the years, are locked on 33 victories each since their very first contest back in Round 12 1982 (which was won 27-19 by the Panthers).

In team changes, promising centre Brenko Lee will get his first opportunity in the NRL this year following the suspension of Joseph Leilua for a shoulder charge.

CLICK HERE to see the NRL Team List.

It will be the first time that Brenko and his cousin Edrick Lee have played in the NRL together.

“From playing with him in the backyard back in the days and now to go on and play in first grade with him, it's going to be emotional,” Brenko said.

KEY MATCHUPS

Blake Austin v Jamie Soward

It is easy to see the passion in Austin’s eyes every time he runs out onto a rugby league field, however the fire was burning especially bright when he ran out onto his old stomping ground of Pepper Stadium back in Round 20.

Austin had a point to prove against his junior club and he certainly did so as the Raiders ran out winners 34-24.

The dynamic five-eighth will again be looking to trump the Panthers and prove those who let him go wrong.

Austin will go head-to-head with Panthers ace Soward in a five-eighth dual that is a contrast of styles. Austin’s strength is his running game which has seen him net 14 tries and 16 line breaks in 2015, whereas Soward, who has a nil next to his name for both the tries and line breaks column, is more adept at creating tries for team mates through his passing and gaining territorial advantage through his kicking game.

Jarrad Kennedy v Bryce Cartwright

It was hard to find positives in last week’s disappointing loss to the Titans however you could not overlook the outstanding performance of Jarrad Kennedy in the back-row.

Playing 80 minutes, Kennedy turned in arguably his best performance of the year with 161 metres, one line break, two tackle busts, two offloads and 32 tackles.

His terrific form saw him again selected as one of the side’s starting second-rowers where he will face off against Bryce Cartwright.

Cartwright is a player who needs to be carefully monitored by Canberra’s edge defence due to his sensational ability to offload. Despite being just 21 years of age, the St Mary’s junior leads the competition in offloads with 55 for the season.

David Shillington v Sam McKendry

After seven seasons and over 100 NRL games in lime green, Shillington will play his last game at GIO Stadium on Monday night as a Canberra Raider.

“I’ve had a wonderful time here at the Raiders and I’d love to thank all of our Members and everyone involved in the club for supporting me every step of the way during my time in lime green,” Shillington said.

“And there’s no better way to do that than with a win on Monday. I’m sure it will be an emotional game for me playing at home for the last time as a Raider.”

Shillington, who averages 137 metres per game in 2015, will be packing down against McKendry who will be looked upon to play a big role on Monday night in the absence of Brent Kite and Nigel Plum.

McKendry, a New Zealand international, averages 105 metres and 23 tackles per game.

STAT ATTACK

Record against the Panthers:

In a total of 67 games against Penrith, Canberra has won 33 games, drawn once and lost on 33 occasions.

Panthers record at GIO Stadium:

In a total of 24 games played at Pepper Stadium, Penrith has won just 8 games and lost on 16 occasions.

Last three encounters:

1.        Raiders defeated Panthers 34-24 at Pepper Stadium in Round 20, 2015

2.        Panthers defeated Raiders 26-20 at GIO Stadium in Round 10, 2014

3.        Panthers defeated Raiders 12-6 at Pepper Stadium in Round 5, 2014


HE SAID IT

Josh Hodgson: “I would like to thank all of our Members for welcoming me with open arms this year. There is no club in Australia that I’d rather be at and I look forward to having you all with us every step of the way again in 2016 as we continue to chase success.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Hodgson.

Josh Papalii: “It’s been a disappointing couple of weeks but I know that all of the boys are pumped up to get a win for our fans in our last home game of the year. They deserve it.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Papali.

Jack Wighton: “I’d definitely love to stay at the Raiders long term. I love the club, they gave me my first opportunity in the NRL after coming through the juniors and I’m very comfortable here.”

CLICK HERE to see the full interview with Wighton.