NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Storm

The Raiders will be heading into their first home game of the season full of confidence when they host the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium on Friday Night.

Canberra will be hoping to claim a win against Melbourne after winning only one of the past seven encounters between the two teams. 

The Raiders will be hoping to continue their winning start to the season, after defeating the Gold Coast Titans 21-0, keeping a team scoreless for the first time since 2013.

The Storm will enter the match on a high note following their 22-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos in round 1 in Melbourne.

The Green Machine have made one change to the starting 13, with Jordon Rapana returning early from a shoulder injury, replacing last week’s debutant Bailey Simonsson on the wing.

A number of Raiders players will also bring up significant milestones on Friday night. Nick Cotric will make his 50th NRL appearance for the Raiders while Siliva Havili will play his 50th NRL match.

New recruits John Bateman and Ryan Sutton will also reach major milestones. Bateman will make his 150th First Grade appearance while Ryan Sutton will bring up his 100th appearance.

Last time: The Storm defeated the Raiders 44-10 in last year’s only clash between the two teams at AAMI Park. The Raiders were down 14-0 heading into halftime, but even with tries to Sia Soliola and Joey Leilua, the Storm were too strong.

Key Match-Ups

Jordon Rapana v Suliasi Vunivalu

Two of the most exciting wingers in the NRL competition will go head to head in what is sure to be an explosive match-up as Jordan Rapana faces off against Fijian giant Suliasi Vunivalu.

Rapana will be looking to get off to a great start after returning early from a shoulder injury he sustained in New Zealand’s 20-14 loss against England in the second game of the three-match series.

The 2017 Dally M Winger of the Year was an unexpected inclusion and his combination with Joey Leilua is something to watch out for.

Vunivalu will be hoping to improve on his 2018 campaign with it being his first NRL season where he wasn’t the leading try-scorer. The Fijian has struggled against the Raiders compared to other sides, with just two tries in his six encounters with Canberra. 

Josh Hodgson v Cameron Smith

Two of the smartest hookers in the game will be out to dictate the play in the centre of the park, and both will hope to provide their team with leadership and courage to get them over the line.

Hodgson will hope to continue his winning form as Raiders co-captain after last week’s gigantic effort against the Titans, assisting one try and being a reliable creative force for the full length of the match.

Smith is entering his 18th season with the Melbourne Storm and is still at the peak of his ability. With long time teammates Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk having left the club, Smith has become an even more important player for the Storm.

John Bateman v Dale Finucane

Bateman will continue to win the hearts of Raiders fans, as a massive battle will be brewing in the centre of the park when he faces Dale Finucane.

The English international starred on debut, playing the full 80 minutes without any errors, and adjusted well to the horrid conditions on the Gold Coast.

Bateman also managed the most run meters, tackles and tackle busts in the Raiders side.

Finucane contributed an enormous defensive effort for the Storm last week against the Broncos, and will be wanting to expand on his 33 successful tackles made last week as he eyes off a NSW jersey.

The heavy hitting locks will be hoping to be continue their dominant starts to the season, with blows left, right and centre expected on Friday night.

I just went out there to play my game and kept it as simple as I could. That’s where I get my confidence from really.

John Bateman

Head to Head

The Raiders and Storm have faced off on 41 occasions, with Canberra being dealt the disadvantage after grabbing 11 victories and the Strom winning the other 30 clashes between the two sides.