NYC Match Preview: Raiders v Sharks
The Raiders U20's will seek to cement themselves within the top eight when they come up against the sixth placed Sharks at Southern Cross Stadium this Saturday.
The young Raiders have turned their season around in recent weeks, recording a fifth straight win in their 48-10 thumping of the Rabbitohs last weekend.
Their recent string of form will be essential if they hope to overcome a consistent Cronulla side away from home.
Coach Brett White says the winning streak comes on the back of a renewed focus on defence.
"I've been pleased with the last five weeks’ performance,” White said.
“We've had a big focus on our defence and our combinations in defending together.
“We've been able to stick with reasonably the same team for a while now and really built some confidence within the group."
The Sharks only just edged out the Titans in the closing minutes of last week’s game thanks to a Sione Katoa try, and White says his side will have to muscle out the win.
“They're quite a patient side and they'll try and grind us out of it,” White said.
“Likewise, we've probably got to do the same to them. I think the more patient team will probably come out with the result.”
Sitting reasonably comfortably within the top eight with a three-point buffer on the 9th placed Knights, the Raiders look primed for a finals tilt, but White says the team is only focusing on their coming match.
“Cronulla is all we're worrying about at the moment; we'll do our preparation for them before we worry about anything else,” White said.
“We've still got five games to go and we're still a chance to miss out [on the finals] if we're not careful."
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Kalani Going is out of the team after suffering an ankle injury in his comeback game last weekend. Robert Vai comes back into the team to start in the centres, with Jack Murchie moving to the second row.
Having lost their last clash against the Sharks 32-8 at GIO Stadium, the Raiders will be out for payback as they seek to continue their winning run.
The match kicks off at 3.15pm on Saturday. Live updates will be on the Raiders Twitter.