NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Sharks

The Canberra Raiders will look to crash Paul Gallen’s farewell this Sunday when they take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Pointsbet Stadium.

Gallen will play his final home game at Shark Park this week, as the Raiders will look to bounce back after last week’s tight 18-14 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium.

Canberra will line-up without Joey Leilua this week, the centre will miss the final two weeks of the regular season after taking an early guilty plea from the NRL Judiciary after last week’s game against Manly.

The Raiders will move Nick Cotric into right centre and will bring back exciting winger Bailey Simonsson into the starting squad.

The Green Machine will be looking to get the win this week to help them secure third position on the ladder.

The Sharks will be looking to continue their four game winning streak at Pointsbet Stadium, with a win this week against the Raiders booking their spot in the finals.

Last Time:

The Raiders met the Sharks earlier this season coming out on top with a 22-20 victory at GIO Stadium. Even with a double from Josh Dugan, Canberra were able to hold on defensively to pull out the win.  

Key Matchups:

Jarrod Croker vs Josh Morris

Two veteran centres will come face to face once again this Sunday at Pointbet Stadium as Jarrod Croker faces off against Josh Morris.

The Raiders co-captain has been on a tear this year, seamlessly breaking milestones every week for the club. Earlier this season Croker passed Jason Croker on the all-time leading try scorer list and added to that number over the past two weeks.

The centre has scored four tries in the past two games for the Raiders, with a double against the Melbourne Storm in Round 22 and another double last week against the Manly Sea Eagles.

Morris has also been dominant in his first year for the Sharks, with the NSW Representative proving he is still one of the best with a double against the New Zealand Warriors last week.

Both centres will be looking to score for their respected sides to help secure a crucial win.

Jack Wighton vs Shaun Johnson

Jack Wighton will be looking to continue his impressive form this week when he comes up against Shaun Johnson.

The NSW representative has seven tries this season and has been solid with his kicking game with 12 forced drop-outs in 2019.

Wighton has also been deadly when running the ball, the five-eighth has posted 2322 total running metres this season, averaging 110.6 metres.

Johnson was impressive against his former team last week, the New Zealand international had 245 total kicking metres and a try assist in the huge win.

Both five-eighths will look to provide a solid kicking game to gain metres for their teams. 

Elliott Whitehead vs Wade Graham

A battle of the second-rowers will take place at Pointsbet Stadium this week when Elliott Whitehead clashes with Wade Graham.

Whitehead has been instrumental defensively in the Raiders forward line-up this year, making 722 tackles with an 89.1% tackle efficiency.

The Englishman got a try assist in last week’s loss to Manly, while also having 28 post contact metres for Canberra.

Having only played seven games this season, Graham still remains one of the strongest forces for the Sharks.

Graham has four line breaks in his short season but has also scored a try, the NSW representative has also made six offloads to his name.

Both second rowers will look to be a huge part of their teams attack on Sunday.

"We need to bounce back after last week's game and we're looking forward to the sell-out crowd." - John Bateman

Head to Head:

The Canberra Raiders and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have met on 76 occasions, with the Raiders having only won 34 games compared to the Sharks 41 with one time ending in a draw.