NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Panthers

The Canberra Raiders will head into Saturday afternoon’s clash aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they line-up against the Penrith Panthers at McDonald’s Park.

Canberra head to Wagga Wagga for their first NRL match since 1985 and will be hoping an energetic crowd can inspire them to their sixth win of the season.

The Raiders will be aiming for a victory after narrowly going down to the Manly Sea Eagles 24-20 last Saturday despite leading at half-time.

The Panthers will also be in the hunt for a bounce-back victory after losing to the Rabbitohs 22-18 in Round 7.

Last Time: The Panthers defeated the Raiders 40-31 in last year’s Round 21 clash between the two sides at Panthers Stadium. The Raiders were leading by seven points with ten minutes remaining, however, the Panthers crossed over three times to complete a comeback and win the match.

Key Match-Ups

Jack Wighton v James Maloney

Jack Wighton will hope to continue his dominant performances from five-eighth when he comes up against James Maloney this weekend.

Wighton has continued to impress after making the move from fullback to five-eighth this season, helping to inspire the Green Machine throughout their 2019 campaign.

Two tries last weekend against the Sea Eagles as well as assisting Ryan Sutton the week before after a ball ricocheted off his head has seen Wighton continuously be an important role in the Raiders build-up play.

Maloney will be hoping his experience and knowledge can inspire the Panthers to their second victory of the season, with the NSW representative almost inspiring a comeback victory last weekend over the Rabbitohs.

Both five-eighths will aim to be in control both on and off the ball in the hope of inspiring their teams to victory in Wagga Wagga.

Elliot Whitehead v Viliame Kikau

A massive battle will be brewing in the forwards as Raiders big Englishman Elliot Whitehead faces up against Fijian international Viliame Kikau.

Whitehead has been instrumental in the Raiders forward line this season, making 223 tackles as well as leading the NRL intercept count with two.

The Englishman will also hope to continue his try-scoring record going against the Panthers, crossing over for a try in both matches against the Penrith side during the 2018 season.

Kikau has been a solid player so far for the Panthers, scoring twice this season as well as making four line breaks in four matches. 

Both forwards will be looking to be in the thick of play this weekend and will be very influential with every touch of the ball they get.

Bailey SImonsson v Josh Mansour

Bailey Simonsson returns to the Raiders side for the first time since Round One after Jordan Rapana sustained an injury during the Raiders loss to the Sea Eagles last week.

Simonsson scored in his only appearance for the Raiders so far against the Titans and he will be looking to continue the strong form that he has displayed recently for Mounties in the NSW Canterbury Cup.

Mansour will also be looking to get more on the board this season,  so far only scoring once for the Panthers in Round 5 against the Titans.

It’ll be a match-up of experience on the wing, with both wingers aiming to add to their try tally’s and inspire their teams to victory at McDonald’s Park this Saturday.

Head to Head: The Raiders and Panthers have met on 77 occasions, with Canberra winning 36 games compared to the Panthers 38, with the other three remaining matches ending in draws.