The Canberra Raiders will be looking to go back to back when they line up against the Gold Coast Titans at 3 pm on Saturday.
With their 36 – 8 thrashing of the Brisbane Broncos last Saturday, and their narrow win over the North Queensland Cowboys just two weeks prior, the Raiders will boast a clean sweep of the Queensland teams if they get the win this weekend.
The win for the Raiders last week kept them at fifth on the ladder, sitting just behind the fourth-place Roosters on nine wins each, separated by 101 points. With only six games left until finals, the Raiders will be looking for some high scoring wins to move past the Roosters in the hope to secure a top-four spot and a home final.
The Titans went down to the Sharks 30 – 18 last week in a loss that cost them more than the two points. Kevin Proctor was sent off for allegedly biting Shaun Johnson, and despite Johnson refusing to testify, the NRL judiciary has found the Titans captain guilty, handing down a four-week suspension for the incident.
Proctor wasn’t the only casualty for the Titans last week, with Jai Arrow picking up a shoulder injury and Dale Copley a pectoral injury that will sideline him for the season. There’s no return date set for Arrow yet, but the Titans forward won't line up against the Raiders this weekend and is a huge loss to their squad.
The Raiders didn’t pick up any new injuries against the Broncos, but Michael Oldfield has extended his time off the field, suffering a broken thumb at training last week, pushing his return date back to round 20.
The Titans conceded nine penalties and had 14 handling errors last week, which they’ll need to clean up heading into Saturday’s game, but the Raiders will have to be at their best defensively with their opponents also tallying up 42 tackle breaks.
The combination of John Bateman and George Williams was a highlight of the Raiders performance last week and something that any Rugby League fan will look forward to seeing this week.
The Englishmen got the Raiders back into the game against the Broncos, with some impressive footwork from Bateman early in the first half to put Williams into space, and a perfectly placed kick from Williams later in the game that saw Bateman earn his first try of the season.
The Titans have never faced the pair together but there’s no doubt that the Wigan teammates would’ve been a focus of their training sessions this week.
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The Raiders defeated the Titans 24 – 6 in round one of the 2020 season, in front of 10,000 fans at GIO stadium before the COVID-19 season break. The score was 18 – 0 going into half time before Anthony Don opened the scoring early in the second half for his team’s only try of the match. Raiders Captain Jarrod Croker made history during the game, becoming the youngest player to surpass 2000 NRL points.
Josh Papalii v Jarrod Wallace
In just 45 minutes on the field last week, Papalii made 28 tackles, had nine hit-ups and snuck in one of the Raiders many offloads in what was a quiet week for the veteran. The representative prop is averaging 154 running metres this season, has made a massive 480 tackles and has four tries under his belt so far. Last time Papalii met the Titans, he racked up a massive 172 running metres, more than any of his teammates.
Papalii is arguably one of the toughest opponents to come up against, but if anyone in the Titans line-up can handle it, it’s his Maroons teammate Jarrod Wallace. The Titans prop has been moved back to the starting squad this week, after a few rounds coming off the bench.
Wallace had a big game in their loss to the Sharks last week, with 75 hit up running metres, three tackle breaks and 24 tackles. The defensive efforts of Wallace are a highlight of his game, and the last time the two teams met he made 35 tackles in almost as many minutes. Being back in the starting squad and coming up against one of the best in the game, Wallace will no doubt be fired up and ready to rip in this weekend.
Jordan Rapana v Anthony Don
After a stint in Japanese Rugby, Rapana returned to the Raiders for round three of 2020 and has made an impact in every position he’s played. The winger earned himself a try assist whilst playing in the centres for their round 11 win against the Rabbitohs, and he appeared at fullback the following week for their narrow 14 – 12 win over the Cowboys.
The usual try-scoring machine has been a bit quiet this season, earning himself just two tries in 11 appearances so far, but even without the four-pointers, he continues to impress week after week. He scored his second try last week but was denied a couple more, proving that he is determined to earn himself and his team some much-needed points. He puts in a massive effort, week after week, and is a pleasure to watch anywhere on the field.
Fullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander BrimsonFullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Titans is number 5 Phillip SamiWinger for Raiders is number 2 Jordan Rapana
Centre for Titans is number 3 Brian KellyCentre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
Centre for Titans is number 4 Young TonumaipeaCentre for Raiders is number 4 Curtis Scott
Winger for Titans is number 18 Corey ThompsonWinger for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
Five-Eighth for Titans is number 19 Tanah BoydFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
Halfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal FogartyHalfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams
Prop for Titans is number 8 Jarrod WallaceProp for Raiders is number 15 Joseph Tapine
Hooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan PeatsHooker for Raiders is number 9 Siliva Havili
Prop for Titans is number 10 Jaimin JolliffeProp for Raiders is number 16 Ryan Sutton
2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Keegan Hipgrave2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
2nd Row for Titans is number 17 Sam Stone2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Titans is number 13 Moeaki FotuaikaLock for Raiders is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera
Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tyrone PeacheyInterchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Titans is number 15 Sam LisoneInterchange for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis Lui
Interchange for Titans is number 16 Beau FermorInterchange for Raiders is number 13 Hudson Young
Interchange for Titans is number 20 Jai WhitbreadInterchange for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
He lines up against Anthony Don this week, he only player to score against the Raiders since May 2018. The Titans winger is their leading try-scorer, with nine of the teams 36 tries, earning a four-pointer in the last three games he played. He would be a welcomed addition back into the squad after a week off resting an injury. Sitting just six tries below his season record of 15 in 2018, Don will be sure to pull out all his tricks to get another four-pointer this weekend.
Curtis Scott v Young Tonumaipea
Scott has faced his fair share of challenges in 2020, and after coming off the bench in round eight, the centre has really started to find his feet in the squad. The effort that he puts in every week highlights the passion that he has for the game and the club.
He had a massive impact on the result last week with two try assists, an offload and a forced dropout, but his performance against the Titans in round one was one of his best this season and he will no doubt be reflecting on that clash in preparation for this weekend.
Scott goes head to head with former Melbourne teammate Young Tonumaipea this week, for the first time since they both left Craig Bellamy's squad. The Samoan international returned to the NRL in 2020 during the COVID-19 break after a yearlong Mormon mission in Germany but has only played three full games so far, suffering a knee injury in round six that sidelined him for seven weeks.
Tonumaipea returned to the squad last week, filling in for Phillip Sami on the wing, but the Samoan all-rounder will be back in the centres and looking for a big game against his former teammate.He had an impressive 147 running metres last week but it's his tackle breaks have proven to trouble his opponents this season, so Scott’s defence will need to be at its best. With 12 tries up his sleeve over his career, he will be keen to find the in goal for his first try in 2020.
Head to Head:
The teams are evenly split through their history, winning 12 each since 1998, but Canberra has the edge in recent years, winning seven of their last 10 meetings. Of their last three meetings, the Raiders have kept the Titans to zero in the first half, and the last time they met on the Gold Coast the Titans went 80 minutes without getting on the board, for a final score of 21 – 0 to the Raiders.