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Bulldogs v Raiders: Elliott returns; Bateman good to go

Canberra will be smarting after their last-up loss to North Queensland. It was their third straight and that turning into four could put them in danger of dropping from the eight with half the competition enjoying a bye week.

To make matters worse, though, they lost another big name last week with Josh Hodgson now sidelined with a broken thumb.

They are also down on troops after Josh Papalii, Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric were selected for Origin duty. The Doggies' only Origin player is Dylan Napa.

The Raiders will certainly have their work cut out against a Canterbury side that even though they are low on the table, have proved in 2019 they'll usually take every match to the final whistle.

The Rundown

Team news

Bulldogs: Adam Elliott will make his return from an ankle injury in a big boost for Dean Pay's men. Corey Harawira-Naera is the man to make way for Elliott and he played Canterbury Cup in the curtain-raiser against the Knights. Raymond Faitala-Mariner moved into the starting side an hour before kick-off with Chris Smith going to the bench. Lachlan Lewis and Kerrod Holland were left out of the squad 24 hours before kick-off while Michael Lichaa was omitted an hour before game time.

Raiders: Good news for Canberra fans with John Bateman declaring himself a certain starter. He had been in England recovering from a broken cheekbone. Bateman's return forces Hudson Young to the bench. Ricky Stuart was forced to make several changes this week with Nick Cotric, Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii on Origin duty and Josh Hodgson out with a broken thumb. Royce Hunt and Andre Niko were the two players omitted 24 hours before kick-off while Emre Guler and Ata Hingano made way an hour before game time.

Key match-up

It's the battle of the young fullbacks. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has been a standout at the back for the Raiders while Bulldogs youngster Nick Meaney wasted no time in showing why those who have tracked his career have him earmarked as a star of the future. Nicoll-Klokstad can be relied on for a good number of kick return metres (he's second in the NRL with 656 metres) and he's yet to record a sub-100-metre performance this season. Meaney grows in confidence each week, which means his threat grows stronger too.

For the Bulldogs to win

They're not short of effort, it's about the combinations starting to click. Foran returning from injury has brought stability back to the halves now they need to start finding the likes of Jayden Okunbor and Meaney and getting them into space where they can cause damage.

For the Raiders to win

When the seats in your casualty ward are starting to fill up, it's back to basics to secure victory. Completions, possession, make sure of getting into the attacking zone and then chance your hand. The Raiders still have the strike power to get over the line, it will be about simple play to put themselves in a scoring position.

Brett Kimmorley says

The Raiders were very good against Souths and the Roosters (despite losing) then just had a day off against the Cowboys which showed that you can’t be good forever. I still think they’ll have enough football in them to score 16-20 points and if you can do that against Canterbury that is probably going to be enough to beat them. Canterbury are re-building and will also lose their enforcer this week with Napa out. Raiders by 6

Stat Attack

Only eight teams have kicked 40/20s this year and these are two of them. The Raiders have successfully kicked two in 2019, the Bulldogs one.

And another thing ...

As well as injuries, Canberra are missing three stars thanks to Origin duty. Notwithstanding their past three losses, the Raiders have been rewarded for a good start to the season with Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric selected for NSW and Josh Papalii chosen for the Maroons. Canterbury aren't unaffected, but they basically have all their key players on the paddock.