There is everything to play for this Friday as Canberra Raiders make the trek to Suncorp Stadium to battle the Melbourne Storm for a spot in the Grand Final.
Here are six things to get excited about.
Despite the odds seemingly being stacked against the Raiders all season, they’ve proved that no matter what you throw at them, they’ll band together and rise above.
The Green Machine have found their groove, and right when it matters most. This Friday they’ll be looking to keep the winning streak alive and secure their sixth straight victory to book their spot in the Grand Final.
When these two sides line up against each other, it’s a spectacular showcase of talent and grit. In recent years, the rivalry has grown with intensity, and it all comes down to Friday night’s game.
In the last two years, the Raiders and Storm have gone tit for tat in the competition. In 2019, the Storm stole the first win in round two, before the Raiders claimed back to back wins at the Storms Fortress, AAMI Park including a round one finals match, where the Raiders came away with a narrow 2 point win.
This season, they’ve gone one for one. The Raiders defeated the Storm 22-6 in round three before the Storm bit back in game nine to claim a 14-20 win.
If the pattern continues, it looks like the Raiders are due for the win. With a spot in the Grand Final on the line, they’re both set to be out for vengeance.
Return to Queensland
It's no secret that the green machine has a strong supporter base up north. The Canberra faithful will be out in force at Suncorp on Friday night and the Raiders will be looking to continue their form in the Sunshine State.
The Raiders have played in Queensland three times this season and have won all three games. The first came in Round 2 against the New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast where they ran out 20-6 winners. The second came against the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 12 up in Townsville. The Raiders prevailed in that match 14-12. The last game was in Round 16 when the green machine put on an attacking masterclass to defeat the Gold Coast Titans 36-16.
Completing the basics
Although the Raiders have been exhibiting some incredibly entertaining footy this season, they’re are living proof that it’s getting the basics right that plays a crucial role in winning tough games. Last week, the Green Machine boasted a 90% completion rate in their knockout win against the reigning premiers, completing 38/42 of their sets, a form they’ll be looking to back up again this Friday.
Battle of the Fullbacks
It’ll be game on this Friday when the opportunistic Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and the ever-consistent Ryan Papenhuyzen go head to head. These two young fullbacks are quickly on the rise to becoming some of the best in the league.
Nicoll-Klokstad has been fire this season, playing an instrumental role in the Raider's success. Week in and week out, he continues to prove just how valuable he is to the team. Last week, it was his try-saving efforts which ultimately gifted the Raiders a shot at this week's Grand Final qualifier. He’s one of the hardest working men on the field, and he’ll be ready to shape up when he meets Papenhuyzen this weekend.
Stuart v Bellamy
Coach v Coach, Mate v Mate. The two started their playing careers together here at the Raiders back in the 80s, before claiming premiership glory in the 1990 Grand Final.
The two remain thick as thieves, but friendship will be put aside this week, as neither will be showing any mercy as they lead their respective teams to battle.