The Canberra Raiders will be hoping to regain their winning form when they head up to Wollongong this Sunday when they face the St. George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium.
Canberra will be looking to break a string of bad results against the Dragons and reignite their streak that saw them win nine matches in a row against the club from 2008 till 2013.
The Raiders head into the clash off the back of the bye after they suffered a tough 22-16 defeat to the Parramatta Eels in Darwin in Round 15.
The Dragons also head into the match with a loss after going down to the Storm 16-14 in Round 16.
Canberra will also welcome back energetic centre Nick Cotric, who has been out since Round 14 with an ankle injury.
Last Time: The Dragons defeated the Raiders 25-18 in Round 11 last year, the only clash between the two sides in 2018. It was 10-all at half-time, yet despite tries to Leilua, Rapana and Cotric, the Raiders ultimately went down by seven points.
John Bateman v Tariq Sims
Two of the competitions most exciting forwards will go head to head this weekend when John Bateman faces off against Tariq Sims.
Bateman has been a star in his debut Raiders season, instantly becoming a fan favourite with the entire Green Machine fan base.
The English forward has been heavily involved in every aspect, scoring three tries this season as well as assisting three and completing a tackle rate of 90.7%.
Sims will be hoping to prove his doubters wrong after missing out on an Origin spot due to suspension.
Both forwards will be looking to prove their strength and will do all that they can to be involved in the heart of each play.
Jack Wighton v Corey Norman
It’ll be a dynamic battle in the middle of the park on Sunday as NSW Representative Jack Wighton will face off against Queensland’s debutant Corey Norman.
Wighton has been a key player for the Raiders after making the switch from fullback into the halves.
Wighton has scored six tries and assisted three so far this season, doing enough to earn himself a spot in all three of NSW’s State of Origin matches this year.
Norman has been a rock in the Dragons’ attacking play all year, leading his team’s count for most line break assists.
Both Wighton and Norman faced off in the State of Origin on Wednesday night, with Wighton and the NSW Blues clinching the 2019 series.
Nick Cotric v Tim Lafai
Nick Cotric will be looking to impress on his return for the Raiders but it won’t be easy as he faces off against the experience of centre Tim Lafai.
Cotric sustained an ankle injury in the Raiders’ Round 14 win over the Sharks, yet thankfully didn’t require surgery to heal.
The 2017 Dally M Rookie of the Year will be hoping to regain the form that impressed Blues’ coach Brad Fittler earlier on in the season to grant him a starting spot in NSW’s first Origin match this season.
Lafai has entered his ninth season in the NRL and played in all of the Dragons’ matches in the 2018 NRL season.
The two centres will be hoping to be influential in this weekend’s clash and will both be hoping to get on the board this weekend at WIN Stadium.
Head to Head:
The Raiders and Dragons have faced off on 30 different occasions, with the Green Machine claiming 17 victories compared to the Dragons 11, with the remaining two games ending in draws.