The Canberra Raiders will take on the minor premiers Melbourne Storm for a spot in the Preliminary Final this Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park.
Here are five things to look forward to:
Finals fever has returned to the Nation’s Capital once again as the Raiders ended their 2019 season campaign in fourth place.
Sitting in fourth guarantees the Raiders a home final, whether that be a semi-final or preliminary final. A win against Melbourne will see the Raiders move within one step of a Grand Final where a massive home crowd will be a huge advantage.
Raiders fans’ will be hoping their side can improve on their last finals run back in 2016, which saw them defeated in the preliminary final 14-12 by this weekend’s opponents, the Melbourne Storm.
Round 22 De Ja Vu
The Canberra Raiders will be hoping to re-create their emphatic win over the Melbourne Storm back in Round 22 earlier this season.
Despite being 18-0 down at one point, the Green Machine fought back through a Jarrod Croker double to bring them back into the game.
With five minutes to go, a rampaging Josh Papalii steamrolled through the Storm defence to crash underneath the posts and clinch the victory for the Raiders.
The Raiders will be looking to be the first team to beat the Melbourne Storm twice at AAMI Park in a single season since the Bulldogs in 2014.
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Big Names Back
After resting a few big names last week, the Canberra Raiders are set to field their strongest available side.
Jordan Rapana, Sia Soliola, John Bateman and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad all were rested in last weekend’s match against the Warriors in order to get them fully charged and raring to go for the finals.
The Raiders will also have Joey Leilua available for selection after his suspension ends, while Joe Tapine is a possibility to return from injury.
Amazing Away Support
The Canberra Raiders will be hoping their travelling fans will flock by the masses and make the journey down to help cheer them on in Melbourne.
The away support this season has been phenomenal, with Green Machine supporters always happy to go that extra mile in order to cheer the boys on.
The atmosphere at AAMI Park last month helped the players turn around the match, while Sia Solia thanked the loyal supporters by leading the Viking Clap after fulltime.
Clash of the Hookers
In what will be the match-up of the weekend, Raiders co-captain Josh Hodgson will come up against Melbourne captain Cameron Smith.
Hodgson has cemented himself as one of the best hookers in the league since joining the Green Machine in 2015.
The England International leads the Raiders tackle count with 884, as well as assisting 12 tries and scoring two of his own for the season.
Hodgson also leads the NRL count for strips, including his strip in the dying moments in the Raiders Round 22 win against the Storm to set up Papalii’s try.
Smith has continued to lead the Storm from the front, with the former Australian captain making 953 tackles so far this campaign, the most of any Storm player. He also leads the NRL for receipts with 2,787.