The Canberra Raiders will face the Melbourne Storm in the Qualifying final this Saturday at AAMI Park.
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.
Canberra are coming off a 24-20 loss to the New Zealand Warriors in their final game of the regular season and will be hoping that the six returning players can lead them to a crucial win this weekend.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua, Sia Soliola, John Bateman and Joe Tapine all return for the Green Machine. Corey Horsburgh, Bailey Simonsson, and Dunamis Lui all move back to the bench.
The Storm are coming off a 24-16 win over the North Queensland Cowboys at AAMI Park where they led 12-4 at halftime and had four different try scorers in the victory.
The Raiders defeated the Storm in a thrilling 22-18 comeback win in Round 22 at AAMI Park. With Melbourne leading 18-4 at halftime, a double to Jarrod Croker and the game-winner from Josh Papalii clinched the win for the Raiders.
John Bateman vs Kenneath Bromwich
After being rested last weekend John Bateman will be raring to go this Saturday when he clashes with Kenneath Bromwich at AAMI Park.
Bateman has been a revelation for the Green Machine this year, being a force in both the Canberra defence and attack.
The English International has four tries this season with four line-break assists and 35 offloads. Defensively, the second-rower has made 694 tackles with a 91.4% tackle efficiency.
After becoming a staple part of Melbourne’s starting side this season, Bromwich will be hoping to help his team get the crucial win this week. The second-rower has scored five tries for the season.
Bromwich has also consistently made plenty of metres with 2261 total running metres in 2019.
Nick Cotric vs Josh Addo-Carr
A battle of New South Wales teammates will take place at AAMI Park this weekend when Nick Cotric takes on Josh Addo-Carr.
With the return of centre Joey Leilua, Cotric returns to the winger position for the Green Machine.
In 19 appearances this season, Cotric has seven line breaks whilst also having 71 tackle breaks. He is also one of the main contributors in getting the Raiders out of their half with 1885 totals running metres.
Josh Addo-Carr will be looking to continue his impressive form from the regular season, the NSW Representative has 14 tries for the year and will be looking for more this weekend.
The Raiders defence will need to be cautious with Addo-Carr, the winger ranks in the top five in the NRL in linebreaks with 15, sitting behind Ken Maumalo, Maika Sivo, and James Tedesco.
Josh Hodgson vs Cameron Smith
Two of the very best hookers will go head to head at AAMI Park this Saturday when Josh Hodgson comes up against Cameron Smith.
Hodgson provides the Raiders with his defensive presence, the Raiders co-captain leads the team in tackles made with 844.
The England international has also been a notable player for the Canberra attack, with 12 try assists and two tries of his own, scoring one last week against the New Zealand Warriors.
Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith remains one of the most impactful players in the NRL, with 18 forced drop-outs and an average of 116.7 kicking metres, Smith’s kicking is deadly against opposing sides.
Head to Head:
The Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm have met of 44 occasions, with the Storm having the winning advantage with 31 compared to the Raiders 12, with one ending in a draw.