Match Preview: Raiders v Sharks
The Canberra Raiders take on the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday in what is the Raiders first taste of finals football since 2012.
A run of ten consecutive wins saw the Raiders finish the season in their highest position since the 1995 season.
Aidan Sezer moved from the Gold Coast to Canberra for this season and the halfback says he expected to be playing finals football with the club.
“I came here for that reason and to play alongside quality players and it has been everything I anticipated,” Sezer said.
However, Canberra aren’t underestimating Cronulla, who defeated the side 40-6 at GIO Stadium in Round Seven.
“They’ve got a quality team, it’s one win a piece. They got us last time we played down here, they got a few points on us so we’ll be looking to rectify that,” Sezer said.
“It’s finals footy now, anything can happen. It’s a different type of arena so we’ll see how it goes.”
Drawing on his experience of playing finals football with the club in 2012, Sam Williams said it was important to trust the work of the coaching staff.
“You probably just have confidence in what you have done throughout the week at training and throughout the pre-season,” Williams said.
“You just have faith in what the coaching staff have done and what the high performance staff have put us through.”
“That’s all you can worry about and I think we are all pretty confident in what we have put in, to put us in the best position to play well down here.”
Cronulla captain Paul Gallen was part of the Sharks team that lost an elimination final to the Raiders in 2012, but said he was confident of winning this time around.
"We've got a good record in Canberra, we don't mind going down there so we're looking forward to going down there and hopefully getting a win,” Gallen said.
“Then obviously because we did finish top four we'd get the week off and all of a sudden we're playing to be in a grand final so really looking forward to it."
The winner of Saturday’s match earns a week off and a place in the preliminary final, while the loser gets a second chance next weekend.
Ricky Stuart has made one change to the team that thrashed the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday. Junior Paulo returns from a lower back injury to take his place in the starting lineup. Paul Vaughan is named 18th man.
The Sharks have made two changes from their side that was defeated by the Melbourne Storm last weekend. Ricky Leutele slots back into the centres, meaning Gerald Beale moves to the bench. Joseph Paulo drops out of the side due to injury, and Kurt Capewell is named as 18th man.
Watch highlights from the Raiders 30-14 victory over the Sharks in Round 22 in the video below.