Match Preview: Raiders v Warriors
The Raiders will be on the hunt for their third-straight win on Saturday as they look to overcome the New Zealand Warriors at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders have celebrated many milestones in winning ways this year, none more so than when they ran riot on the weekend in Joey Leilua’s 150th NRL appearance, and are hoping to make Jack Wighton’s 100th NRL game one to remember this Saturday afternoon.
Having edged out a gritty Parramatta outfit 30-18 and belted the Titans in an eight tries to three demolition on Saturday evening in their last two outings, it is clear Ricky Stuart’s men are hitting their straps.
Bringing plenty of wind to the Raiders’ speeding sails is blistering right-edge duo Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana, a pair with an eye on running rampant against the Warriors on Saturday.
“Leipana” was again at its scintillating best in round six, a fact made strikingly clear by Rapana’s hat-trick of tries in the opening 25 minutes of play.
Rapana’s partner-in-crime played a hand in all three of the Kiwi international’s four-pointers as the pair again stamped itself as arguably the most destructive backline combination in the competition.
But as the hype surrounding the Raiders’ electric right edge grows in noise, five-eighth Blake Austin noted the left side of the park is also brimming with potency.
“We’ve got a left side that can do some pretty special things as well,” Austin said.
“I think Josh Papalii’s probably at the top of the game in his position, and Jarrod Croker and Aidan Sezer and young Nick Cotric, so good luck to any team that wants to focus on one part of our team.”
The Warriors have also struck hot form and, like the Raiders, have trounced both the Titans and the Eels in their two most recent appearances.
They knocked off the Gold Coast in New Zealand 28-22 in round five, before accounting for Parramatta 22-10 in another home win in a game streaked with the brilliance of halfback Kieran Foran.
However, as impressive as the Warriors have been at home, they remain winless on the other side of the Tasman.
With the Raiders returning to the capital with an unchanged line-up, New Zealand could be set to face one almighty hurdle.
The Raiders clinched a 26-22 golden-point win at home when they last crossed swords with the Warriors.
Croker turned in a brilliant captain’s game in last season’s Round 20 clash, crossing for a trio of tries and nailing three goals.
Watch highlights from the match in the video below.