1990 Grand Final
The 2020 season marks 30 years since the Raiders triumphed over the Penrith Panthers to claim their second premiership. Tries to Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga and Matthew Wood sealed the win for the green machine in front of 41,535 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The Raiders have enjoyed a strong rivalry with the boys from the foot of the mountain over the years with the two sides clashing frequently in some tense encounters.
The Panthers exacted some revenge for the 1990 Grand Final as they defeated the Raiders a year later in the 1991 decider as they ran out 19-12 winners.
Test against the best
The Panthers currently lead the NRL so far in 2020 and have been nothing short of outstanding. The Panthers have only lost one game this season which came in a 16-10 loss to the Parramatta Eels back in Round 5.
Ivan Cleary’s men were at their best last week as they destroyed the Manly Sea Eagles 12 – 42 at Brookvale Oval to consolidate their position at the top of the NRL ladder.
The Raiders have been luckless so far in 2020 with injuries since the resumption of the season. Saturday’s clash however, could see the return of fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad from a finger injury which he sustained in the Raiders Round 11 win over the Rabbitohs. Michael Oldfield appears to be edging closer to a return to the side from a hamstring injury.
The return of personal will be a massive boost to the side as young Fijian winger Semi Valemei was ruled out for up to a month after sustaining a knee injury in Saturday’s win against the Cowboys.
Historical Head to Head
Since 1982, we’ve played the Panthers on 77 occasions and there’s been nothing to split the two sides. Both teams have 38 wins under their belts, with a solitary draw in 1996 in the mix as well.
Interestingly, the Panthers are the side that we’ve faced the most in our history, and in recent years the games have been relatively high scoring encounters.
We won both games against the Panthers last year with wins at Wagga and Penrith and will be hoping to put our noses in front in the historical record.
The Right Stuff
The returns of John Bateman and Curtis Scott saw the Raiders right-edge look solid in defence and potent in attack in an encouraging sign in the second half of the season.
The Raiders scored both tries against the Cowboys down the right side as the returning players linked up well with George Williams and Nick Cotric.
As the left edge continues to hum along nicely, it’ll be exciting to see how they both fare against an in-form Panthers outfit.
Play of the Week: Bateman and Scott combine
In the International series at the end of 2019 both George Williams and Nathan Cleary either weren’t utilised or involved for Great Britain and Australia respectively.
However, the pair could lay claim to being the most in-form halfbacks in the NRL and would certainly be pushing for International recognition at the soonest possibility.
Williams has caused defensive lines plenty of issues with his running, passing and short kicking game while Cleary has relished the extra responsibility since James Maloney’s departure.
It should be a fantastic battle to watch.
Cotric breaks away for Williams to score