The Canberra Raiders go head-to-head against the Illawarra Steelers in the SG Ball Grand Final this Saturday 3pm at Leichhardt Oval.
Both sides finished the regular season out of the top three but proved to be strong competitors in their final’s campaigns, both securing a spot in the grand finale.
In last week’s semi-final, the Raiders started strong and were able to score three tries in the first 10 minutes of play. Coach Ash Barnes knows a similar start will be crucial on the weekend.
“It was something that we focused on going against Manly, we knew they had a powerful side and we needed to start strong, and the Steelers are no different.”
The Steelers showed their speed and ability in the middle in their 42-32 semi-final win over the Roosters, where five-eighth Junior Amone scored a hat-trick.
The Raiders defence needs to be spot on come Saturday, and after their defensive efforts last week Barnes knows they can get the job done.
“For the majority of that second half [last week], it felt like we were defending our end.” Barnes said. “The boys showed great intent and desire to hold their line in attack and that’s something I’m really proud of.”
“There’s a massive focus around our defence this weekend.” Barnes said. “We’re quite confident in our attack and what we can do with an even amount of possession, but it’s just really making sure our defence is on.”
Naming the same 17 men for Saturday is a huge advantage for the young Raiders in Barnes’ eyes.
“We’re rolling in being able to name the same 17 for the fourth week in a row, so the combinations and consistency are all starting to build.”
“They’re starting to be confident around their ability as individuals because they’ve all been able to exhibit the things that we want as a Raider.”
Saturday’s game is set to be a fierce contest between the two sides. They last met in round three where the Raiders had a dominant 36-10 win.
Match: Raiders v Steelers
Grand Final -
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Jack SandfordFullback for Steelers is number 1 Tyrell Sloan
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Xavier SavageWinger for Steelers is number 2 Alexander Lobb
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Deakin BrightCentre for Steelers is number 3 Benjamin Lavender
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Josh BillingCentre for Steelers is number 4 Brandon Morkos
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Michael AsomuaWinger for Steelers is number 5 Cooper Roberts
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Mitchell SpencerFive-Eighth for Steelers is number 6 Junior Amone
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Sione MoalaHalfback for Steelers is number 15 Trey Barlow
Prop for Raiders is number 8 Loghan LewisProp for Steelers is number 8 Bryce Magnone
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Toby ThorburnHooker for Steelers is number 9 Riley Wooden
Prop for Raiders is number 23 Caleb EseraProp for Steelers is number 17 Trent Griffiths
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Noah Saddler2nd Row for Steelers is number 11 Jackson Shereb
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Clay Webb2nd Row for Steelers is number 12 Travis Barrett-Hancock
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Trey MooneyLock for Steelers is number 13 Joshua Coric
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Connor WilliamsInterchange for Steelers is number 10 Thomas Phillips
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Blake MartinInterchange for Steelers is number 14 Viliami Mahe
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Mitchell PrestInterchange for Steelers is number 16 Jack Owens
Interchange for Raiders is number 21 Wilson HamblinInterchange for Steelers is number 18 Syddarys Cassidy
Reserve for Raiders is number 22 Joshua PokoneyReserve for Steelers is number 19 Dilan Asanoski