The Canberra Raiders will be hoping to break the Penrith Panthers seven game winning streak as they travel to Pepper Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
Here are five things to look out for:
Breaking the streak
The Panthers will be coming into this game full of fire and confidence off the back of winning seven games in a row.
Their round 18 clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons was a tremendous 40 – 18 thrashing.
In their last seven wins, the Panthers have also defeated the Gold Coast Titans, New Zealand Warriors, Manly Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels and top four sides the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Panthers hold a strong winning record at home when playing at Pepper Stadium, four of their seven game winning streak were recorded at home.
Penrith are now just one win away from the top four, just two months after sitting equal last.
The Green Machine will have to be at their absolute best to tear down the Panthers hope of eight straight.
Raiders v Panthers rivalry
If history is anything to go by, this weekend’s clash will predictably be a close one between the two clubs.
In the last four years, each meeting between the Panthers and Raiders has resulted in a nail-biting finish.
The rivalry dates back to the 1990 and 1991 grand finals. Two years in a row of Raiders v Panthers in the decider, one to the Raiders, one to the Panthers.
There aren’t many links remaining to those early 90s memories, however, the rivalry has stuck.
The last eight games between Penrith and Canberra have all been tight. Raiders have won just three of those eight including the most recent in round eight this season by 18 points.
Sia Milestone – 100 club
Sia Soliola will reach a milestone this weekend, as he will raise his bat to celebrate his first century donning the green jumper.
Soliola arrived at the Raiders in 2015 after a stint in the Super League and five years at debut club the Sydney Roosters and has been a dominant force for the Green Machine since arriving.
Formerly a New Zealand and Samoan international, Soliola started off his career at the Raiders in full force when he was awarded the 2015 Meninga Medal for the club’s Player of the Year in his first season.
Soliola will look to continue his impressive form this season scoring one try so far and making 373 tackles.
Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau headed to the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night and was unsuccessful in his appeal for a shoulder charge on Dragons halfback Darren Nicholls.
The Panthers will now have to name a replacement for Kikau in their starting side. The Panthers have options on their interchange and on the extended bench. Moses Leota, Reagan Campbell-Gillard could be promoted to the starting side while Jed Cartwright, Spencer Leniu, and Liam Martin could also come into the side.
Free to air winning success
With Pepper Stadium being less than a three-hour drive from Canberra, this Sunday afternoon game presents a perfect opportunity for a day trip for Raiders fans.
This Sunday’s clash will be shown on free to air TV giving more Canberra fans a chance to tune in.
In the 2019 season, Ricky Stuart’s side has so far won every game that has been on free to air TV. A 100% winning record the Raiders will hope to continue.