NYC Match Preview: Raiders v Tigers
CANBERRA RAIDERS V WESTS TIGERS
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 13, 1.30PM, ALLIANZ STADIUM
Coming into the first week of finals the Canberra Raiders Holden Cup side is confident of being able to go deep into September despite their recent month of mixed form.
A resounding 44-18 away win against the Eels helped break the Raiders out of their streak of tough losses. The win has placed the side in high spirits ahead of their elimination final against the Wests Tigers this Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
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Luke Bateman, who returns to captain the side for the sudden death match, said the team has a lot of confidence ahead of their game knowing that they’ve defeated the Tigers twice this season.
“It’s a different ball game against every team when you’re in the finals, you can’t count the wins during the year as a guaranteed result in the finals, but we’ll be taking a lot of confidence knowing that we’ve beat them twice this year,” Bateman said.
Although the side only managed to scrape into the finals in 8th position Bateman was adamant that the finals are a whole different ball game.
“The team has been working really hard over the past couple of weeks despite the losses. We have been getting together as a team to work out which direction we want to be heading and we’ve been working really hard on the areas we need to improve.
“We have been talking about it with the Coach Mick Mantelli that anything can happen in the finals and despite the losses we knew we had a good team so we’re really hoping to make a good impact heading into the next couple of weeks.”
Bateman has been heavily involved with the senior Raiders side, having played numerous games for the Green Machine in the NRL this year and being awarded the Rookie of the Year Award at the Meninga Medal.
The Queensland Under 20’s representative was excited to be playing finals footy with the Holden Cup side and believed the experience of playing with the NRL side will help him lead the team against the Tigers on Sunday.
“It’s good to be back with the side and having a crack at the finals. It’s a great honour and privilege to be able to be leading them around the field as they’re a good group of blokes.
“I’ll be able to bring a lot of experience back to the side and a bit of leadership to the boys which will hopefully give the rest of the group confidence in having a player with NRL experience in the team,” Bateman said.
It hasn’t been the most graceful run into a finals series for the Raiders Holden Cup side, but nonetheless the Green Machine will be hoping to make a deep run into finals for 2015.
The side hasn’t had an issue with scoring points all season, which will help in their quest for the premiership. However what has unravelled Canberra during the season has been their poor defence so if they are to make a solid run in the finals this year those defensive errors must be addressed.
Luckily for the side they come up against the Tigers who they know how to beat, as they have done both times this season.
It’s sudden death football for the Raiders and they’ll be making their first step towards a potential premiership this Sunday 1:30pm at Allianz Stadium.