The Canberra Raiders will take on the North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval at 2pm this Sunday in round 12 of the NSW Cup.
This will be the first time the Raiders have played the Bears in a competitive match since 2007 when the Raiders were last in the NSW Cup.
The Raiders played well in patches against the Magpies last week but unfortunately couldn’t get the win, going down 36-22 in the end.
A slow start hampered the Raiders efforts last week where they conceded three unanswered tries to start the match. A fast start is needed against a tough Bears team who gritted out a 20-10 win over Mounties in round 11.
The key to getting out of the blocks early for the Raiders will be getting early ball to their strike weapons, Xavier Savage and Manase Kaho. Another key to victory will be a strong performance from the forward pack who will have to tighten the defence around the ruck and win the battle in the middle of the field.
Albert Hopoate v Sione Hopoate
Albert Hopoate is named to make his first appearance since suffering a shoulder injury in round six against the Parramatta Eels.
The versatile outside back has scored two tries already this season and his ability to break the line and make big metres are a big boost for the Raiders.
Named in the centres for this weekend’s match, Albert will face his brother Sione who is named on the wing for the Bears. The two brothers faced each other in pre-season trial match at Seiffert Oval.
Sione Hopoate has been a meter eater for the Bears. In his last two games, Hopoate has clocked over 220 running meters. The battle between the two brothers will definitely be one to watch.
Ata Mariota v Tuku Hau Tapuha
Raiders young prop Ata Mariota is starting to find his feet and form in the NSW Cup. In only his third game in NSW Cup the Samoan born 20-year old made a statement, with 124 running meters, 54 post-contact meters and five tackle breaks in just 36 minutes of football against the magpies.
The exciting front row prospect used his 6-foot, 114kg frame to dominate contact with the Magpies’ forwards last week. Another big performance will be needed from Mariota, as the Raiders will need to have the ascendancy in the middle of the field to win against the Bears.
The Bears own young forward prospect Tuku Hau Tapuha has been in excellent form for the Bears. The big forward is an excellent ball runner and a great defender. In his eight games this season he has only missed 10 out of 186 tackles.