Raiders wary of 'bogey' Knights
While both sides finished on opposite ends of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder last season, it was the Newcastle Knights that put the most amount of pressure on the Canberra Raiders in their two corresponding clashes in 2016.
Canberra could only salvage a draw the last time they were in the Hunter after the Knights turned a 16-6 deficit at half-time into a 24-all scoreline with neither side able to slot a field goal in a thrilling finish to the contest.
Ricky Stuart's men were then forced to avoid what would have been an embarrassing loss at home to chase down Newcastle's 22-6 lead at GIO Stadium, with Jordan Rapana scoring the match-winning four-pointer in the final seconds of the first stanza of extra time.
Raiders prop Luke Bateman recalls the great escape in Round 17 and expecting nothing less from an improved Knights line-up almost a year on.
"Last year they finished with the wooden spoon and both times sent us to golden point so we're definitely not expecting an easy game," he said on Wednesday.
"You never expect to beat a team easily or by a number of points but it always seems to be a close game with them.
"They're always tough especially at home so it's going to be hard to head up there and try to get a win."
With Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii missing through suspension, Bateman is expected to play more minutes after a 45-minute stint in the lock forward position against the Bulldogs.
Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer hopes the week off from representative round can spark the side heading into four of their next five games on the road after back-to-back losses to the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs.
"We've come off the back of two tight losses and we're thoroughly disappointed with that," he said.
"It hasn't been up to the Raiders standard we set and pride ourselves on so we'll be ready to rectify that and replicate it at training.
"We base ourselves on effort plays and that hasn't been there. Those things are important and go a long way to winning a game."
Watch highlights from the Raiders last encounter with the Knights in the video above.
The 25-year-old wasn't sure the break came at the right time performance-wise with the side keen to turn recent results around as quickly as possible, however after nine games and three trips to Queensland to start the season, the players were grateful for the extra days away from the game.
"There is still a few niggling injuries hanging around but the staff here are one of the best so we're confident the boys that run out on the field are ready to play," Sezer said.
"It's Round 10 and everyone is getting bumps and bruises. That will only accumulate over the weeks now so hopefully we can keep a healthy squad.
"It's a long week ahead, we probably haven't got into [the Newcastle game] too much yet as we've been assessing the games where we have gone wrong."
Veteran back-rower Iosia Soliola replaces Papalii in the No.11 jumper for the clash with Joey Leilua, Joseph Tapine and Adam Clydsdale all set to take on their former club.
Article written by Alicia Newton, NRL.com