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The Canberra Raiders will be looking to make it three straight victories when they face the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday evening at GIO Stadium.

The Raiders were convincing winners last start against the Gold Coast Titans as they scored more than 30 points for the second match in a row.

Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric starred in the performance as both players bagged a double, while Josh Papalii’s 60-metre sprint and then ankle tap on Titans half Jamal Fogarty will go down in Raiders folklore.

The middle of the park is one the Green Machines strong points at the moment, Ryan Sutton had arguably his best game in the NRL, running for 205 metres and providing a good platform for his side to work with.

With the addition of John Bateman, the right-hand edge of George Williams, Curtis Scott and Cotric is looking potent and it is something the Bulldogs need to be wary of.

Although they were narrowly defeated by the New Zealand Warriors in their last start, the Bulldogs have been improving week to week.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
    Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
  • Winger for Raiders is number 2 Jordan Rapana
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Nick Meaney
  • Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Marcelo Montoya
  • Centre for Raiders is number 4 Curtis Scott
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Kerrod Holland
  • Winger for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
    Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Kieran Foran
  • Halfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams
    Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Lachlan Lewis

Forwards

  • Prop for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis Lui
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Ofahiki Ogden
  • Hooker for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
    Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
  • Prop for Raiders is number 16 Ryan Sutton
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan Napa
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  • Lock for Raiders is number 15 Joseph Tapine
    Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Aiden Tolman

Interchange

  • Interchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Sione Katoa
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 9 Siliva Havili
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf To'omaga
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 13 Hudson Young
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Dean Britt
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Matthew Timoko
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Matt Doorey

Veteran half Kieran Foran is controlling his side around the park nicely as he looks to consolidate a new contract for next season and fullback Nick Meaney is a livewire at the back who can break open a defensive line with his sheer pace.

The Raiders will need to limit both these men if they are to make it a happy homecoming this week.

Although 11 places separate these two sides on the ladder, the Raiders need to be wary of a Bulldogs side with nothing to lose as they look to play ‘party pooper’ for sides in finals contention.

Coach Ricky Stuart has made a sole change, Corey Harawira-Naera is unavailable to play against his former club due to a clause in his contract, impressive rookie Matt Timoko will replace the former Bulldog on the bench.

Bulldogs interim coach Steve Georgallis has made a plethora of changes to his side Luke Thompson, Jack Cogger, Reimis Smith, Tim Lafai and interchange players Jake Averillo and Sausao Sue have all been omitted from the side.

Lachlan Lewis slots in at halfback, Marcelo Montoya at centre and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the wing. In the forwards Dylan Napa returns from suspension, Josh Jackson is in the backrow and Aiden Tolman slots in at lock. On the bench is rookie Matt Doorey and Renouf To’omaga and Dean Britt join the starting 17.

Last Time:

John Bateman was back with a bang from a facial fracture as he inspired the Raiders to a gritty 12-10 victory at ANZ Stadium. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ran for over 300 metres and made the game saving tackle in the dying moments as the Raiders snapped a three-game losing streak.

Key Matchups:

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad vs Will Hopoate

The ‘battle at the back’ is huge, with Nicoll-Klokstad establishing himself as one of the premier fullbacks of the competition and Hopoate trying to lockdown the number one jersey for the Bulldogs.

Nicoll-Klokstad has gone from strength to strength again this season and has also developed some nice ball playing skills, with that on display last week with his cut-out ball to Cotric ending in a Canberra try.

In contrast, Hopoate has spent a large chunk of the season out injured but Is a big metre-eater with the Tongan international running for 229 metres last week.

Both players take plenty of pressure off their forward packs with big metres from their red-zone, neither player will shy away from doing the hard yards – strap yourselves in for a mouth-watering battle at the back.

Jack Wighton vs Kieran Foran

Wighton was huge last week as he returned to form with his running game doing the talking and will need a similar performance when he faces an international half.

Wighton looked rejuvenated as he ran the Titans rugged with the Clive Churchill medallist running for 113 metres and scoring twice.

Foran has come into his own in the last couple of weeks, with the New Zealand international playing for a new contract, he will be keen to repeat last week’s try scoring efforts as he aims to steer his side to an upset victory.

The proof is in the pudding that this matchup has the potential to be game breaking, so expect to see both sides rely on their five-eighths to steer the ship.

John Bateman vs Josh Jackson

A big battle in every sense of the word, Bateman and Jackson are two world quality players with plenty to prove.

Bateman has been a revelation since his return from injury, he has put in some big performances and his link up with Williams has been one to look out for.

Not only does Bateman add spark in attack, his defence is gritty, with the man from Bradford making 32 tackles last week without a miss.

On the other hand, Jackson is the motor for the Bulldogs with the NSW representative averaging 88 metres and 35 tackles per game in 2020.

Both players get through a mountain of work and you just get the feeling that these men will be heavily involved in proceedings.

Head to Head:

In 36 battles between the two sides, they can’t be split with the sides sharing the spoils at 18 wins a piece. The Raiders boast a Grand Final win over the Bulldogs in 1994.