Match Preview: Raiders v Panthers
The Canberra Raiders host the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night in an elimination semi-final at GIO Stadium.
Having suffered a narrow loss at the hands of the Sharks last weekend, Raiders prop Junior Paulo knows that the Canberra Raiders have no more chances to keep their season alive.
“We’re excited to get back on the field this weekend. It’s our last chance I guess and for Penrith as well,” Paulo said.
Coming up against a red hot Panthers side, Paulo was full of praise for opposite number Leilani Latu.
“He’s had a quality season, especially coming into the business end of the year for finals. He’s been a very important player for the Panthers,” Paulo said.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge for us as middle as well, but as I said, we’re excited to go that extra mile to win the semi-final.”
One player who is in doubt for Saturday’s clash is influential hooker, Josh Hodgson. The Englishman suffered an ankle injury early in the second half against the Sharks.
“There’s a bit of ligament damage and bone bruising as well on the inside so it’s not great,” Hodgson said.
“Chances wise it’s pretty slim, but I’ll just do whatever I can to train and be right for the weekend.”
Having won their past six matches, the Panthers are one of the form teams in the competition and have gained confidence from beating the Bulldogs last weekend.
"We can obviously take a lot of confidence out of it, beating a side with so much finals experience and big game experience," Moylan said.
"I think it was good for a lot of the boys to get their first finals game out of the way and get it off to a winning start."
Penrith hooker Peter Wallace said his team needs to defend their line well against the Raiders.
“They've got a big pack as well, and they've been starting really fast as well and blowing teams away so we've got to make sure that doesn't happen," Wallace said.
The winner of Saturday’s match earns a trip to Melbourne to take on the Storm for a grand final place.
Ricky Stuart has named a full strength squad to face the Panthers this Saturday. Josh Hodgson and Blake Austin have been named despite carrying ankle and hand injuries respectively. Sam Williams drops out of the side due to Austin’s inclusion.
The Panthers have named the same side that beat the Bulldogs last week. Prop Moses Leota is named on an extended bench.
Watch highlights from the Raiders last meeting with the Panthers in the video below.