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The Canberra Raiders are on to the semis following their 32 – 20 win over the Sharks in the round one elimination final last weekend.

The Raiders are gearing up to take on the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night, and here’s six things we’re looking forward to.

Grand final replay

Just days after the first anniversary of the notorious grand final between these two teams, the Raiders will get the chance to end the Roosters season and their hopes of winning the trophy three years in a row. Ricky’s men will no doubt give it everything they’ve got to go the distance again this season, with the winner of this match moving on to the preliminary final, inching that much closer to the Grand Final. With the memory of the 2019 Grand Final still lingering, the Raiders will be fired up and ready to take on their greatest rival of the 2020 season for the last time this year.

Wighton and Williams

The halves pairing of Jack Wighton and George Williams is getting stronger every week and they’re undeniably some of the most exciting players to watch. The pair really stood up last week, took control of the game, and got the Raiders back in it after a grinding first half of footy.

Williams scored an intercept try just before half time, and the momentum that he created continued into the second half, with two tries to Wighton in the first 10 minutes, with the second off a Williams kick. Just six minutes later, Wighton returned the favour and put Williams into space for his second of the game.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Raiders is number 2 Semi Valemei
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
    Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
    Centre for Raiders is number 4 Jordan Rapana
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
    Winger for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
    Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Kyle Flanagan
    Halfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams

Forwards

  • Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Jake Friend
    Hooker for Raiders is number 14 Siliva Havili
  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Prop for Raiders is number 16 Hudson Young
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner
    2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 16 Mitchell Aubusson
    2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
  • Lock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu
    Lock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine

Interchange

  • Interchange for Roosters is number 12 Angus Crichton
    Interchange for Raiders is number 9 Tom Starling
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Sitili Tupouniua
    Interchange for Raiders is number 10 Iosia Soliola
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Sonny Bill Williams
    Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Dunamis Lui
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 18 Nat Butcher
    Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Chris Butler
  • Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

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Patience

Following their win last week, the Raiders proved that they have the patience and the belief in themselves to come from behind and take the win. Although the Sharks were only four points ahead going into half time, they were dominating in field position and forcing the Raiders to work the ball off their own line, with Jack Wighton’s fifth tackle kicks often coming from deep within their own half.

Frustrations were growing, and while there were a number of errors made, there was never a sign of panic from the Green Machine. They made the most of their opportunities and took control of the game in the second half to bring it home.

A plethora of points

High scoring games have become the norm due to the new rule changes and the tired defensive lines, and who doesn’t love a good try celebration. There was a total of 235 points scored last weekend, the highest number of points for a finals round in any NRL season, and it’s the first time that each team has scored more than 20 points.

The Raiders were one of only two teams last weekend to keep their opponents to 20 points, and their defence will have to be at its best to keep the high scoring Roosters away from victory.

Leading the competition on 580 points and 99 tries, the Roosters know how to get on the scoreboard, and with four players sitting on 10 tries or more, they’ve got plenty of options to get them over the line.

Poetic justice

For some of the Raiders squad, this will be their last chance to line up against the Roosters, donning the lime green jersey. In the back of their minds, they know this could be the last time they line up with their Canberra mates, so they know they’ll have to dig deep to come up with the win and guarantee another game together.

We all know who they are, and we know how much a win this weekend would mean to them, for themselves, for the fans, and each other.

The Raiders were all but written off for the 2020 season, with the injury toll that seemed insurmountable to those on the outside, but those in the bubble knew that they had more to give, and to make it this far just proves that they can go all the way. But this weekend they face their biggest challenge of the season so far, physically and mentally.

All that matters is this game, this Friday, and if they can overcome their challenges and pull through with the win, there’s no doubt that this game will be the one to remember.

Starting strong

The last three times these teams have met, Canberra has gone into half time on six points, and only once have they come up with the win. Their most recent clash ended with an 18 – 6 victory to the Roosters, with their defence proving too strong for the Raiders. The boys know they’ll have to start strong this week, and we’ve watched them pull off massive second-half performances for a few weeks now, so we’re keen to watch them come out firing and continue the grind for the full 80 minutes.

The home crowd advantage seemed to be the edge in round one, with all of the home sides taking the victory over the weekend, but Canberra has been one of two teams to beat the Roosters there this year, and they will look to do so again.