NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Titans
The Raiders will be looking to spoil the return of former prop David Shillington with another home win at GIO Stadium.
Shillington, who spent seven years with the Raiders, heads to Canberra with his Gold Coast team mates who are also looking for a third win of the season.
The Titans have surprised many with their form to start 2016, running out convincing winners over the Newcastle Knights and Wests Tigers and putting up a big fight against the undefeated Melbourne Storm.
Captain Jarrod Croker is looking forward to the challenge of playing against his old teammate.
“There’s always that feeling in the air when the older players come back, I’m sure Shillo will be fired up,” said Croker.
"There are no easy games in the NRL. The Titans are going really well and are going to come down full of energy and very positive.
"The Titans halves are building better combinations each week. Ash Taylor is a great young player."
Raider’s coach Ricky Stuart admitted that his side needs to improve against an impressive Gold Coast team.
“They’re probably playing better than us. We’re not playing well but we are hanging in there so we’re scraping through at the moment.”
“We’re not playing for 80 minutes and we haven’t got a lot of continuity in our attack either. We’re probably winning some games on a little bit of character at the moment but that doesn’t get you through every game, we’ve got to start playing better quality football.”
Many of the Titans young stars played against the Raiders in the 2016 Auckland Nines, where a strong Titans outfit came out 26-15 winners. Agnatius Paasi was rampant against the Raiders that day and will be a key man for the Raiders to contain on Saturday as he continues his breakout year.
The Raiders go into the match against the Titans aiming to maintain their unbeaten start in 2016.
The Raiders head into the match against the Titans with the same side that drew against Newcastle. Elliott Whitehead will continue to play at five-eighth and Joseph Tapine will play his first game at GIO Stadium for the club.
CLICK HERE for the Raiders NRL team.
Eddy Pettybourne is included on an extended bench for the Titans, in the only change from the side that beat the Tigers last Saturday.
CLICK HERE for the Titans NRL team.
Shannon Boyd v David Shillington
Boyd’s absence from the field last week was felt as Newcastle managed to get back into the game without the big front rower. Despite a concussion scare last week, Boyd is free to play and will be up against the Raiders’ former prop, David Shillington.
Shillington will no doubt be fired up and hoping to impress on his return to the nation’s capital. Forming part of an experienced forward pack, it will be important for the men in green to limit the impact of their former teammate.
Josh Hodgson v Nathan Friend
Hodgson leads the way in the competition for 40-20 kicks and has been a standout performer for the Raiders so far. The Englishman has not only been outstanding in attack but has been busy in defense with an average of 33 tackles a game. If Hodgson can put his stamp on the game, the Raiders will score plenty of points.
The Titans captain, Nathan Friend, is a calming influence on a team with a young spine. The 35-year-old rake has plenty of experience, having played over 200 first grade games. Although he has only made 5 runs from dummy half this year, his passing is a threat.
Shaun Fensom v Greg Bird
He missed most of the match against the Roosters in round two, but tackle machine Shaun Fensom was as impressive as always last week. Fensom once again played big minutes and had a total of 15 hit-ups and 56 tackles against the Knights.
With a new halves combination, Greg Bird has been playing a more creative role for the Titans. With three try assists to his name already, the Raiders will need to restrict the time Bird has on the ball.
Record against the Titans:
In a total of 17 games against the Titans, Canberra has won 7 games and lost ten.
Titans record at GIO Stadium:
The Titans have played 8 games at GIO Stadium, winning 3 and losing 5.
Last 3 encounters:
Titans defeated Raiders 28-12 at Cbus Super Stadium in Round 24, 2015
Raiders defeated Titans 56-16 at GIO Stadium in Round 9, 2015
Raiders defeated Titans 36-20 at Cbus Super Stadium in Round 18, 2015
HE SAID IT
Joseph Tapine: “I’m glad to be back on the field and have that taste of NRL again.”
CLICK HERE for the interview with Joseph Tapine.
Frank-Paul Nuuausala: “Their forward pack’s the key – I think they played awesome against the Tigers, they’re the ones who got them back into that game."
CLICK HERE to read the article about Frank-Paul Nuuausala.
Elliott Whitehead: “I thought I did alright at five-eighth considering it was my first time”
CLICK HERE to watch the interview with Elliott Whitehead.
Sam Williams: “It’s important that we just keep grinding away and [we’re] putting ourselves in positions to win the games and working really hard for each other for the whole game. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
CLICK HERE to read the article about Sam Williams.
Brenko Lee: “I love beating teams from Queensland – they’re the teams you want to play up for and do your best.”
CLICK HERE to read the article about Brenko Lee.