NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Bulldogs
The Raiders welcome the Bulldogs to GIO Stadium, in what is the club’s first home game in over a month.
A dominate win against the Tigers in their last home game was followed by narrow losses to the Panthers and Dragons before securing a convincing win last weekend against the Warriors.
The Raiders played the Bulldogs in round 5 this year to claim a famous 22-8 win at Belmore, but Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin is wary of a strong Canterbury outfit who won at GIO Stadium on their last visit in 2015.
“We started really slow last year and they put 26 points on us before we could look up. We came out with a really good attitude against them at Belmore and that’s because we knew what we were going to be in for in front of their volatile fans. It’s important that we start fast and start well [this weekend],” said Austin.
Austin also said the team needs to improve from last week’s match against the Warriors.
“I think we were pretty honest with our performance after the Warriors, we were happy with our defence and to hold them to twelve, but we want to improve on that."
We can’t give sides the chances that we gave the Warriors in the first half last week. On another night we may have struggled to hold a team to twelve points so it’s important we learn our lessons and keep improving."
Second-rower Sia Soliola returns for the Raiders after he spent some time on the sidelines due to an arm injury as well being with his wife as she gave birth to their second child.
“I’m just happy to be around the boys and be selected and to run on with the team - [it] doesn’t matter where I play – but to be out there on the edge it’ll be nice to get a few balls from Aidan Sezer and I’m pretty excited to play outside of him as well,” said Soliola.
The second rower said the club’s recruitment has been important in creating depth in the squad.
“Full credit to the boys that actually have come in like Luke Bateman [and] Clay Priest, they’ve done a really good job," said Soliola.
The Bulldogs enter the clash with back to back victories over the Tigers and Roosters respectively. This was the first time the Bulldogs had secured consecutive wins since Round Two.
There are two changes for the Raiders, Shaun Fensom returns from a shoulder injury and Soliola returns from an arm injury he sustained against the Bulldogs in round 5. The experienced duo are welcome additions to Ricky Stuart’s side who are missing Josh Papalii due to Origin duty. Luke Bateman moves to the bench, while Clay Priest is 18th man.
The Bulldogs have a number of absentees, with Klemmer and Jackson called up for NSW. Will Hopoate will miss the game due to religious reasons. Faitala-Mariner and Browne come into the starting side while Perrett is named at fullback once again. Josh Morris has been released from NSW Origin camp to play on Sunday in a big boost for the Bulldogs.