NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Panthers
The Raiders will be looking to back up last week’s demolition of the Tigers with another winning performance against the Panthers on Saturday.
The Green Machine travel to Bathurst in what will be their second clash against the Panthers this season.
The Raiders narrowly won a hard-fought match against Penrith in round 1 this season and the man who scored the match-sealing try that day, Shaun Fensom, is under no illusions about how tough the game will be this weekend.
“It will be a very big battle in the forwards, they have some very big players and so do we”, said the Raiders lock. “We just need to stick to what works for us, running hard and tackling hard and we have to do that this week to have the same performance.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart echoed Fensom’s statement.
“We always have a tough game against Penrith. They’re a team that we always get into a scrap with. It’s always tough and always physical. They’ve got a good team, we have a good team,” said Stuart. “We’re prepared for a game we consistently have with Penrith where it goes down to the last ten minutes.”
The Raiders were impressive last season when playing at regional grounds with victories against Manly and Souths at Albury and Cairns respectively. The Raiders always enjoyed a pre-season victory over the Knights in Orange, in a sign that the Raiders enjoy heading out to play in regional cities.
A win against the Panthers would see the Raiders climb to sixth on the ladder. Penrith, on the other hand, will be looking to put their recent woes behind them. Despite being competitive in every game this season, four of their five losses have been by less than a six-point margin.
Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged line-up to the side that defeated the Tigers 60-6. Clay Priest is named on the bench again after an impressive debut last week. Frank-Paul Nuuausala is 18th man for the trip to Bathurst.
The Panthers have listed three inclusions to the side that narrowly lost to Cronulla last week. James Segeyaro returns at hooker, having been on the sidelines since the bruising round one encounter which also saw Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer sidelined. Peter Wallace moves back into the halves and the injured Te Maire Martin drops out of the side.
Dean Whare is listed to play in the centres but a reported knee injury is likely to keep him out of the side. Sam McKendry is 18th man.
Paul Vaughan v Leilani Latu
Vaughan has been an influential figure off the bench for most of the season but against the Tigers he had an opportunity to start. He didn’t disappoint either, carrying the ball 177m and scoring one try.
The Panthers prop, Latu, has had a solid start to 2016, forcing his way into the Penrith lineup. He is a solid runner of the ball averaging almost 90m a game. His defence is solid too with an average of 20 tackles per match.
Elliott Whitehead v Bryce Cartwright
Whitehead has been a superb addition to the Raiders and has formed a lethal right edge combination with Rapana and Leilua. His outrageous flick pass to set up Rapana’s fourth try against the Tigers was another reminder that his ball skills are just as impressive as his defence. Averaging a shade under 40 tackles a game, Whitehead has also assisted three tries and scored two tries himself.
The young second rower, Cartwright, has started the season strongly for Penrith having already scored three tries the season. Touted as a bolter for Laurie Daley’s NSW side, Cartwright will be aiming to turn around Penrith’s fortunes by negating the influence of the Raiders’ English second rower.
Jarrod Croker v Peta Hiku
At only 25 years of age, Croker is only nine points away from eclipsing David Furner point scoring record for the Raiders. Jarrod’s kicking was near his best against the Tigers as he repeatedly nailed difficult sideline conversions. Due to the small winning margins in the Panthers’ games this season, Croker’s kicking will be critical to the Raiders’ chances.
After joining Penrith from the Sea Eagles in the off-season Peta Hiku has been impressive. Currently the leading try scorer for the Panthers with four tries, the Kiwi representative has showcased his ability to offload the football, averaging almost two offloads per game.
In a total of 69 games against Penrith, Canberra has won 35 games, drawn once and lost on 33 occasions.
Last three encounters:
1. Raiders defeated Panthers 30-22 at GIO Stadium in Round 1, 2016
2. Raiders defeated Panthers 34-18 at GIO Stadium in Round 25, 2015
3. Raiders defeated Panthers 34-24 at Pepper Stadium in Round 20, 2015
HE SAID IT
Ricky Stuart - “It’ll be a good game of footy and it’ll be good for the country area, it’s good they are taking it out to Bathurst.”
CLICK HERE for the full interview with Stuart.
Josh Papalii – “You’ve got to try and keep your form going into these games [Kangaroos v New Zealand] and then obviously after these games.”
CLICK HERE for the full interview with Papalii.
Shaun Fensom - “The previous two weeks we had leaked 76 points and that came from the middle not winning.”
Jordan Rapana – “We [Leilua, Whitehead and himself] always stay back at training and work on those little individual extras and I think it’s paying off.”
Clay Priest – “Steve Antonelli has been a real big help for me over the last few years since being coached by him so I’ve got to put a lot of this towards him and thank him for the opportunity.”
CLICK HERE to hear more from Rapana and Priest.