The Canberra Raiders will face the Sydney Roosters in their first Grand Final in 25 years at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night. Here are five things to look forward to:
The Big Dance
It has been 30 years since the Raiders won their first premiership against the Balmain Tigers in 1989.
The clubs third and last premiership came in 1994 where they defeated the Canterbury Bulldogs. Fast forward 25 years and the Green Machine make their return to the big dance and will be hoping to add another chapter in the club’s history.
After defeating the Melbourne Storm 12-10 in the first week of finals and then beating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 16-10 in the preliminary final last week, Canberra will come up against the reigning champions Sydney Roosters.
In 2019, the Roosters beat the Raiders both times throughout the season, winning 30-24 in Round nine and 22-18 in Round 21. The Raiders will be looking to complete their terrific season with a fourth premiership.
Meninga to lead the Raiders
Raiders icon and the Green Machine’s premiership captain Mal Meninga will lead the famous Canberra Viking clap by sounding the horn at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.
Meninga was the last man to captain a Raiders side to a Grand Final, winning the clubs third premiership in 1994. He also led the side in their other two premierships in 1989 and 1990.
Raiders fans will hope that Meninga’s presence will help current co-captain Jarrod Croker and Josh Hodgson lead their side to another championship.
The clap will make its Grand Final debut since it was first introduced in 2016 and will resonate throughout ANZ Stadium.
Milestones for Fan Favourites
Two massive milestones will be celebrated this week with fan favourites Sia Soliola celebrating his 200th NRL match and Joe Tapine celebrating his 100th NRL match.
Soliola will have no love lost when he faces his old club at ANZ Stadium this weekend.
The former New Zealand and Samoan international made his debut for the Roosters in 2005 and moved to the Raiders in 2015 after a stint in the Super League.
The 2015 Meninga Medal for the club’s Player of the Year, has had another great season in 2019 with two tries and 2432 total running metres in 25 appearances.
After two seasons with the Newcastle Knights, Joe Tapine made his debut for the Green Machine in 2016 and the New Zealand international has made the most of his time here with 16 tries to his name.
Tapine continues to improve each and every season both in defence and attack, with 22 tackle breaks and a total of 350 tackles made in 2019.
Wighton vs Keary
Jack Wighton and Luke Keary will go head to head this week at ANZ Stadium for the Grand Final.
Since moving to the five-eighth position at the start of the year, the former fullback Wighton is in career-best form scoring eight tries in 25 appearances in 2019.
The NSW representative has backed his scoring with his impressive play with the ball, with 83 tackle breaks, eight line breaks and five try assists throughout the season.
Wighton’s off the cuff style of play was featured when he turned nothing into something to score a try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs last week.
Luke Keary is the playmaker behind the extraordinary Sydney Roosters attack, with 22 try assists to his name. Keary also leads the NRL in linebreak assists with 20.
The Roosters’ five-eighth is also a force when it comes to the kicking game with an average of 236.7 kicking metres to go along with his impressive 14 forced drop outs.
Both five-eighths will be looking to help their respected side secure the NRL Premiership at ANZ Stadium.
Defence wins Premierships
The Canberra Raiders have once again proven that their defence is up for another tough attacking team in the Sydney Roosters.
Last week’s preliminary final against the South Sydney Rabbitohs was the catalyst of how good the Raiders defence is, with the Raiders goal-line defence and try-saving tackles on display and the ability to turn defence into attack.
Led by Josh Hodgson, the Raiders have also been a force in defence when it comes to stripping the ball back. Hodgson leads the NRL in strips and will be looking for some more when he comes up against a team that leads the NRL in handling errors.