The battle to the Grand Final continues, as the Canberra Raiders get back on the road for a semi-final against the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 7:50 pm on Friday.
In recent years, the rivalry between these two sides has skyrocketed. With a chance to knock the other out of the competition and progress to a preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm next week, it’s set to be another epic match between the pair.
Last week, the Raiders came away with a 32-20 win over the Sharks. It was Joseph Tapine who managed to open the scoring, but it wasn’t until the second half that the Green Machine managed to kick into gear and steal the win to end the Sharks season. Playmakers Jack Wighton and George Williams both picked up doubles before Elliott Whitehead put the cherry on top.
The Raiders will be looking to get onto the front foot early this week as a slow start against the Roosters could prove costly in getting the win. Since their loss to the Roosters back in round 10, the Raiders have sparked a winning streak. This weekend they’ll be looking to secure their fifth straight victory.
The Roosters will be looking to bounce back after losing their last two matches. They copped a 60-8 thrashing from the Rabbitohs in the last round of the regular season, before a narrow one-point loss last weekend against the Panthers, in a heated finals affair. The Roosters managed to get ahead on the scoreboard early but quickly fell victim to a Nathan Cleary hattrick, with a Cleary field goal proving to be the difference, wrapping up the game 29-28.
Coach Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged side heading into Friday night's game.
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Raiders is number 2 Semi Valemei
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh MorrisCentre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph ManuCentre for Raiders is number 4 Jordan Rapana
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett MorrisWinger for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke KearyFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Kyle FlanaganHalfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Jake FriendHooker for Raiders is number 14 Siliva Havili
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua TaukeiahoProp for Raiders is number 16 Hudson Young
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
2nd Row for Roosters is number 16 Mitchell Aubusson2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac LiuLock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine
Interchange for Roosters is number 12 Angus CrichtonInterchange for Raiders is number 9 Tom Starling
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Sitili TupouniuaInterchange for Raiders is number 10 Iosia Soliola
Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Sonny Bill WilliamsInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Dunamis Lui
Interchange for Roosters is number 18 Nat ButcherInterchange for Raiders is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Tapine will be celebrating a club milestone this weekend when he pulls on the lime green jersey for his 100th club game.
The opposition has made changes to their starting squad to accommodate the return of Captain Jake Friend. Friend returns after spending a week on the sideline as a result of a concussion, meaning Freddy Lussick will drop out of the side.
Sonny Bill Williams also returns to the squad, re-joining the bench after missing last week's match due to a neck injury, pushing Nat Butcher onto the extended bench.
It’s all on the line this Friday, in what will be a blockbuster do or die Grand Final rematch.
Roosters v Raiders - Elimination final
The last time the pair met was back in round 17 where the Roosters managed to get up on the Raiders 18 – 6 at GIO stadium.
Jack Wighton v Luke Keary
When these two rival sides meet, it’s Jack Wighton and Luke Keary that set the pace for their respective sides. Their presence on the field plays an instrumental role in their team getting the upper hand.
Wighton is the name on everybody’s lips this season and for good reason. Earning his first Mal Meninga Medal this year for his efforts, he’s scored eight tries in his last seven games, totaling 12 tries and eight try assists for the season. His partnership with George Williams in the halves has been producing magic all season, and it’s sure to keep the Chooks on their toes.
Keary has been the backbone of the Roosters this season. He’s managed ten tries, and a whopping 18 try assists.
As always, a standout game from one of the two will go a long way in getting their team the win.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad v James Tedesco
Two dynamic and skilful players, it’ll be a gritty battle between the fullbacks on Friday when Nicoll-Klokstad shapes up to Tedesco.
Nicoll-Klokstad has been playing some of the best football of his career this season. His ability to create something out of nothing and control the game has been a crucial part of the Raiders success this season.
Tedesco may be dubbed one of the best fullbacks in the game, but an up and coming handful like Nicoll-Klokstad will be ready to apply the pressure on Friday.
Sonny Bill Williams v Hudson Young
Coming in hot off the bench on Friday will be seasoned veteran SBW and Raiders firecracker, Hudson Young.
These two men always make their presence on the field known, causing quite the stir when they’re given a chance.
Young has become a regular name in the interchange and is quickly proving to be an asset to the side. Improving more and more each week, he’s scored four tries in his 16 appearances, and with 500 tackles made, he boasts a 91.9% tackle efficiency. Young played his first career finals match last weekend and will be hungry to rip in again this weekend.
SBW re-joined the Roosters in the back end of the season to assist the Roosters in their run to the finals. With the chance of being knocked out of the competition, we can expect him to be on his A-game to try and pull the Roosters through to the preliminary final.
Head to Head
The Canberra Raiders have gone head to head with the Sydney Roosters 66 times with the Roosters coming out on top with 37 wins. This season, the scores remain even, with the Raiders winning 24-20 back in round 10 and the Roosters winning 18-6 in round 17.