What a Sunday afternoon blockbuster double to look forward to - the Raiders taking on the Roosters followed by the Rabbitohs facing the Storm at Gosford.
The Raiders have passed almost every test this season, but they failed at their first crack at the Roosters in round nine's Magic Round in Brisbane and will be relishing the chance to play them on home turf.
Victory on Sunday would further validate the Green Machine's premiership claims.
The Roosters remained in the top four with last week's rout of the Titans and can't afford to take their foot of the gas.
Match: Raiders v Roosters
Round 21 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Raiders: Canberra are 1-17 after making Joey Leilua and Emre Guler the final cuts from their squad. Nick Cotric returns from suspension, while Ryan Sutton is back from a calf injury and takes Guler's spot on the bench. Leilua will have to wait at least another week to make his return from the neck injury which has sidelined him since round seven. Sam Williams and Oldfield were cut from the reserves on Saturday.
Roosters: Zane Tetevano has won a late promotion to the starting side with Isaac Liu dropping back to the bench but otherwise the visitors are 1-17. Matt Ikuvalu and Lachlan Lam are the final cuts to the match-day squad. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves returns from suspension. No other changes to the team that beat the Titans 58-6. Lindsay Collins and Drew Hutchison were omitted from the squad on Saturday.
Match: Raiders v Roosters
Round 21 -
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Bailey SimonssonWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod CrokerCentre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Nick CotricCentre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaWinger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Aidan SezerHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh PapaliiProp for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Raiders is number 10 Iosia SoliolaProp for Roosters is number 15 Zane Tetevano
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph TapineLock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Siliva HaviliInterchange for Roosters is number 10 Isaac Liu
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Dunamis LuiInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Nat Butcher
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Corey HorsburghInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Poasa Faamausili
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Ryan SuttonInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Sitili Tupouniua
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad v James Tedesco. The potential signing of the year against the best fullback in the world. The tussle between these two metre-devouring custodians is a nice sub-plot to a juicy top four clash.
For the Raiders to win
It's no surprise the Raiders have conceded the second-fewest points in 2019 when you watch how committed they are defensively. But while their defence will have to be extra strong on Sunday, they can't get bogged down in an arm wrestle. The Raiders are also one of the top attacking teams and need to keep the Roosters guessing from start to finish.
For the Roosters to win
The premiers better ready themselves for a finals-like atmosphere in the nation's capital and also should prepare to face a fired up Raiders team seeking redemption after the Roosters prevailed 30-24 in round nine. The Chooks must win the battle of the forwards, while the Cronk/Keary combo has to provide astute game management.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Raiders have a chance here to make an even bigger statement than they made against the Panthers a couple of weeks back. This is a big test for them. I look forward to seeing how tough the Raiders can play against a side like the Roosters who are very physical and don’t miss many tackles. It is a great chance to sit there and see just how exciting the finals could be. Josh Hodgson is the key for Canberra and Luke Keary the key for the Roosters. Roosters by 2
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker will need an extraordinary run of matches to catch Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell for the leading point-scorer title. Mitchell (241) comfortably leads second-placed Croker (166).
And another thing ...
It's been 25 years since the Raiders last won a premiership or even played in a grand final. The club's most successful era was the late 80s and early 90s when it won titles in 1989, '90 and '94. Coach Ricky Stuart was the halfback and the team featured some of the game's greats like Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Brad Clyde and Glenn Lazarus. The Raiders were hoping to break their premiership drought when they finished second on the ladder in 2016. This season they have another great opportunity to finally make it back to the big dance.