The Canberra Raiders take on the Penrith Panthers in a top of the table clash this Friday at 5:30 pm at BlueBet Stadium in Penrith.
The Raiders - currently second on the ladder - put on a show last weekend, scoring a whopping 60 points against the Newtown Jets. The Raiders’ forwards were dominant close to the line, scoring six of the team’s ten tries.
The Panthers are undefeated and first on the ladder. They have proven to be a tough side to score against, keeping their opposition under ten points in their last two matches.
The Raiders will need another offensive display like last week’s if they’re going to overcome the staunch Panthers’ defence.
The Green Machine welcome back Sam Williams and Semi Valemei into the side, while Queensland Origin prop, Dunamis Lui, starts in the front row to boost an already impressive forward pack full of NRL talent.
Harry Rushton v Scott Sorensen
In a battle of talent verses experience, English young gun Harry Ruston will take on the experienced Scott Sorensen when the second rowers face-off this Friday.
Rushton was impressive last week against the Jets. He had 13 runs for 109 meters and showed serious talent when he scored a try that saw him pick up a loose ball and drag three defenders over the line.
Scott Sorensen is a former Raider and an experienced campaigner who’s been playing in and out of first grade since 2014. Sorensen is a tough-as-nails, hard running second rower who is very solid in defence.
This matchup will be a good test for the talented but young Rushton, who is still only 19, against one of the Panthers’ most seasoned forwards.
Caleb Aekins v Brent Naden
Both Caleb Aekins and Brent Naden were part of Penriths’ squad that finished as minor premiers in last year’s NRL season. Each player has shown that they can play at the NRL level and the battle between the fullbacks should be one to watch.
Aekins will look to inject his speed and skill from the back in the Raiders’ effort to defeat his former club. In his Raiders debut against the Magpies, Aekins went over 100 running meters and scored a try; a similar effort will be needed against the defensively sound Pathers.
Panthers’ fullback, Brent Naden, has already shown his devastating power at the NRL level - where he usually plays centre or wing. He poses a threat returning the ball, and the Raiders’ kick-chase will have to be at its best to shut him down.