The Canberra Raiders will cross the Tasman this week to face the New Zealand Warriors and keep their season alive.
Here are five things to keep an eye for during the match.
Three in a row
With the final few spots in the top eight hotly contested, the Raiders will be hoping for three wins in a row this Sunday to sound a warning to the rest of the competition. The Raiders have won three of their past four matches, just falling short against the Storm in round 20. But a win against the Warriors at their home ground could be the start of a three game winning streak which could potentially drive the Raiders into the final spot on the ladder and sneak into the NRL Finals.
The Raiders have a troubled past at Mt Smart Stadium but after having no issues taking down last year’s premiers at their home ground last week, this trip to New Zealand could prove critical.
For Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine, the away trip to New Zealand this weekend could be categorised as a home game. Both Rapana and Tapine were born in Wellington, New Zealand, and have represented New Zealand on an international stage.
After moving to Australia to pursue their rugby league careers Rapana and Tapine will both be looking forward for a chance to get back to New Zealand and spend time with family and friends before the game which could result in a big performance from either player.
Battle of the 9’s
In what could be the determining factor in the match, the battle of the 9’s is set to light up Mt Smart Stadium this weekend. Josh Hodgson and Issac Luke have been in great form recently and are central players in their respective teams.
Hodgson leads Luke in both tries and try assists with the English rake also coming off the back of a star performance last week which included a try, a line break and a try assist. Whereas Luke, has the advantage over Hodgson in run metres showing how dangerous the 227 game veteran can be.
Leading Try Scorer
Raiders try scoring machine Jordan Rapana could become the NRL’s leading try scorer this week if he can find a way over the white stripe. Currently sitting on 16 tries for the season Rapana is just one four-pointer behind Suliasi Vunivalu and Alex Johnston and could potentially take top spot this weekend. Rapana has been in scintillating form recently and even bagged a double last week against the Sharks.
However, Rapana has never been able to score a try against the Warriors since making his NRL debut in 2008. If there was ever a time for the New Zealand born winger to score against the Warriors, this weekend would be it.
Since Shaun Johnson went down in the Warriors 34-22 loss to Penrith in round 19 this year, the Warriors haven’t been able to record a win and have failed to score more than 12-points since the halfback’s injury.
Johnson suffered a season ending injury after rupturing his posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Kiwi international is undoubtedly a key component of the Warriors attack and without their star half directing the play, the Warriors could fall to their 6th straight defeat.