NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Sharks
The Raiders will host the defending premiers this Saturday in their first home game of the 2017 NRL season.
With both teams coming off tough losses in the opening week of competition, there will be plenty on the line for both teams as they look to collect their first win of the season.
The home ground advantage could play a large role in the match as a bumper crowd is expected to fill GIO Stadium to cheer the Green Machine on.
Despite the result, the Raiders played very strongly in their round one clash against the Cowboys. Some crucial penalties and errors contributed largely to the loss, however, five-eighth Blake Austin believes the effort was there, and is hoping to bring that into this week's clash.
“It's going to be important that we maintain the same energy and effort that we did last week,” Austin said.
“We need to get on the better side of the ref this week, hold on to the ball a little better and that will go a long way.”
The Raiders will be without Jarrod Croker, Joe Tapine and Clay Priest, while Jack Wighton and Junior Paulo return to the side. Former Sharks player Scott Sorensen has been named to make his Raiders debut on Saturday.
Australian representative Valentine Holmes hasn't been named in the Sharks 21-man squad, meaning his chances of playing on Saturday are next to nil.
With a loud and passionate crowd behind them, and the reigning premiers in front of them, the Raiders blockbuster against the Sharks on Saturday has all the hallmarks of being a classic encounter.
The Raiders went down to the Sharks 16-14 in a close encounter during last year’s finals series. Having held the lead for all of the match, the Sharks clawed their way back in contention late.
With scores tied at 14-all with five minutes remaining, the Sharks were awarded a penalty for a high tackle right in front of the posts. James Maloney made no mistake converting, giving the away side an unlikely victory that allowed them an easy passage to the grand final.
Watch highlights from our last encounter with the Sharks in the video below.