The Canberra Raiders will be looking to get back on track when they come up against the Parramatta Eels this Saturday at Bankwest Stadium.
Off the back of a difficult 14 – 6 loss to Manly last week, the Raiders will need to dig deep to come up with a win against the competition leaders in their round seven clash.
Parramatta suffered their first defeat of the season last week, going down to the Roosters 24 – 10, which put them just one point ahead of the Knights and the Panthers, so they’ll be fighting to hold on to the top spot.
The defence of the Raiders has been a huge part of their success this season, and it will need to be at their best this week, with Parramatta’s Ryan Matterson and Junior Paulo leading the competition for offloads, with 18 and 17 respectively. Although their defence has kept them in contention for the premiership so far, the Raiders will need to come up with some strong attacking sets if they want to measure up to the in-form Eels.
Canberra will have the odds stacked against them this weekend, travelling for the fifth week in a row and having a six-day turn around after a tough physical clash against the Sea Eagles which saw three Manly players helped off the field. The Raiders will line up the same again this week, with Ricky Stuart telling the media that there’s no need to panic and change the whole shop around.
With the announcement that Nathan Brown was unsuccessful in having his grade one high tackle downgraded, the Eels lock will miss the next two games, forcing a reshuffle in the previously announced team list. Peni Terepo will also drop out of the side, with Brad Takairangi named on the bench.
The men in green will need to clean up their game to compete with Parramatta, with two of the Raiders leading the way in the penalty count, and the team sitting in third for errors on 71. Brad Arthur runs a tight ship with his squad, with the Eels conceding just 26 penalties, compared to Canberra’s 37.
The teams last met in June 2019, when the Eels defeated the Raiders 22 – 16 in Darwin. After trailing by four at half time, Parramatta kept the Raiders scoreless in the second half while crossing the line twice to take the lead.
Mitchell Moses v George Williams
Mitchell Moses is arguably one of the biggest names in the game, and after winning the Dally M Halfback of the year in 2019, the Eels number seven has continued to improve his form through 2020. His match-up against George Williams will be one to watch on the weekend, with the experts already talking about him as one of the best in the game after just six appearances.
The Raiders will need to put the pressure on Moses when he lines up a kick, achieving 10 forced dropouts already this season, and an average of 409 kick metres per game, but Williams is no slouch either, with an impressive six try assists and a solid defence, the Englishman will be up to the challenge.
Eels v Raiders - Round 7
Maika Sivo v Jordan Rapana
Maika Sivo made his NRL debut in 2019 and the Parramatta winger has gone from strength to strength this season with 17 tackle breaks, three tries and two try assists, but after a short stint in Japanese Rugby, Jordan Rapana has returned to Canberra and reclaimed his position with several impressive performances.
The Canberra winger has made nine tackle breaks in four appearances since returning to the capital, five of which were just last week. Rapana’s defence is another strong aspect of his game, and the energy and excitement that he brings to the field will help to get the Raiders over the line.
Ryan Matterson v Elliott Whitehead
With Ryan Matterson leading the competition for offloads, Elliott Whitehead will have his hands full in shutting him down. Whitehead had a huge game last week, scoring the Riders only try and making some massive try-saving tackles.
This is Matterson’s first season with Parramatta and has slipped into their squad nicely with a massive 232 tackles and an average of 134 running metres per game. Whitehead has made massive improvements this season though, with four line breaks and three tries in six games, compared to three linebreaks and three tries across the whole 2019 season.
Head to Head:
Canberra has won 20 out of 33 games against Parramatta, and in the last 10 games, Canberra has won seven.