The Canberra Raiders will welcome back an international prop when they look to take revenge on the Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium this Saturday.
Raiders enforcer and Australian prop Shannon Boyd returns to the team this week after being cleared from a knee injury he suffered three rounds ago against Manly.
Boyd joins Junior Paulo in the front row to reunite the pair which terrorised the Broncos back in round four. The pair will also have extra motivation this weekend when they look to take full advantage of a run of upcoming home games.
The Raiders haven’t played a home game since their round 12 win over the Roosters, but Saturday will mark the first of four consecutive home games for the green machine.
Despite struggling on the road this season, the Raiders have a much better record in front of a home crowd winning four out of six matches at GIO Stadium this season.
Ricky Stuart will clearly remember the last time these two teams met back in round four, when a Jordan Kahu field goal split the deadlock with five minutes remaining to steal the win away from the Raiders, 13-12.
The loss sparked a run of tight defeats for the Raiders, who will no doubt be hoping to have the game wrapped up with plenty of minutes left on the clock this time around.
Both teams are well rested after enjoying the bye last week, however some players will be effected by their origin commitments but all have been named to play.
The Raiders are coming off of a crushing defeat at the hands of the Penrith Panthers in round 14 and will be looking to make amends for their mistakes. While the Broncos enjoyed a comfortable win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Raiders squad remains mostly unchanged with Papalii being named despite his origin commitments and the inclusion of Boyd sees Sia Soliola move back into lock and Luke Bateman returns to the bench.
As for the Broncos, Ben Hunt is the only inclusion as he returns from an injury in jersey 17 to be used as a utility, while all three of their origin stars have been named.
The last time these two teams faced off was at Suncorp Stadium in round four this year. Wearing the Marvel Hero’s jerseys, the Raiders looked to continue their strong start to the season. After a first half which saw no tries scored, the Broncos ran in two quick tries after the break.
The Raiders were quick to reply however, scoring two of their own just as quick to tie up the match. Despite a host of attacking possession, it was the Broncos who would get the win in the 75th minute after Jordan Kahu kicked a field goal from 30 metres out to seal the game.
Josh Hodgson v Andrew McCullough
Both Hodgson and McCullough have been pivotal parts of their respective teams season so far. With high work rates and dangerous in attack, the winner of the dummy halves could sway the outcome of the game.
McCullough has been enjoying one of his best seasons to date, while Hodgson has struggled with form throughout this season. If Hodgson can find the form he was in last season, McCullough’s defence will be tested containing Hodgson’s darts out of hooker and late passes.
Jack Wighton v Darius Boyd
Youth plays experience in this matchup which is sure to be an interesting part of the match. Wighton has been one of the standouts for the Raiders this season, playing a similar attacking role as Boyd.
Both fullbacks like to get their hands on the ball and play at the line with Wighton claiming five try assists, while Boyd totals six. If Wighton is able to influence the game by getting his hands on the ball it will cause problems for Boyd to cover at the back, which could play a large part in the outcome of the match.
Joey Leilua v James Roberts
Raw speed meets raw power in this matchup. Roberts is renowned in the NRL for his blistering pace and acceleration which can cause trouble for even the best defenders, whereas Leilua is renowned for his attacking style of footy and his size and power in attack.
If Leilua can contain Roberts and prevent him for getting into any open pasture where he can fully utilise his speed, it will go a long way to slowing the Broncos attack.
Head to Head
Played 50; Raiders 19; Broncos 30; Drawn 1. The Broncos have gotten the best of the Raiders over the years with the Broncos currently riding a four-game winning streak over the Raiders.
The Broncos a currently sitting just inside the top four in 4th position, with a spot in the top eight all but locked up. While the Raiders are sitting in 10th position, needing a win if they are to make a run for the finals.
Quote of the Week
"It's great that we have a few home games coming up now so hopefully we can put some wins on the board and climb up the ladder."