The Canberra Raiders are coming off an impressive 30-16 victory against the Sea Eagles last week and will want to make it back to back wins when they take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at 3pm this Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
Due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak in NSW, the match, originally slated to be played at GIO Stadium, has been moved to the Gold Coast to ensure the NRL season can progress in safety. For more information regarding the situation, please click here.
The Raiders welcome back Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii from Origin duty. They will need to be at their best to take on a resurgent Sharks team who have won five out of their last six matches.
The Raiders found a blueprint to winning last week, with their high completion rate and their ability to keep the opposition pinned in their own half. If the Raiders can produce a repeat effort, they’ll be on track for another victory.
Last Time They Met
The Raiders narrowly defeated the Sharks 12-10 in round two earlier this year.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Raiders
Josh Hodgson v Blayke Brailey
Josh Hodgson has been one of the best dummy halves in the NRL for years now and has been a significant factor in the Raiders success over recent seasons.
Known for his deception around the ruck and his one-on-one steals, Hodgson continues to evolve his game. Last week when Tom Starling entered the match, Hodgson moved out to lock and was able to add to the fluidity of the Raiders attack with his ball-playing and rugby league IQ.
Hodgson’s ability to get his forwards on the front foot by darting out of dummy half and opening up space for the big men to run into will be instrumental in the Raiders push for victory on the weekend.
Blayke Brailey has been a standout for the Sharks since getting the gig as starting hooker in 2020. His high work rate in both attack and defence define the Sharks tenacious style of play. He is a high-quality player and the Raiders will need to shut him down quickly.
Sebastian Kris v Connor Tracey
Two standouts of the 2021 NRL season will clash when Sebastian Kris and Connor Tracey battle it out in the centres.
Since taking last year off Sebastian Kris has come back better than ever. Over the last couple of weeks, Kris has solidified his spot in the Raiders backline, playing both left and right centre.
Standing at 182cm and weighing in at 100kg, Kris is a powerful centre that can break tackles and find the try line. Kris has scored three tries in his last four games and will want to increase that tally on Saturday.
Connor Tracy will be going up against Kris, as he moves from the halves out into the centres. Weighing only 87kg, Tracey will be giving up a fair amount of size to Kris.
But the former Australian schoolboy halfback more than makes up for his small frame with his speed and ball-playing ability. Tracey leads the Sharks in tries scored this season with ten, and he provides the Sharks with a real x-factor in attack. Tracey has struggled in defence though, missing almost a third of his tackles.
Joseph Tapine v Siosifa Talakai
When Joseph Tapine came off the bench last week, he completely changed the game. His footwork and ability to offload caused massive headaches for Manly’s defence, and in only 44 minutes Tapine racked up 234 run meters.
Tapine’s 2021 has had its ups and downs due to injury, but performances like last week show that he is one of the best players on the field when he is at his peak.
Coming off the bench against the Sharks, Tapine could give the Raiders the upper hand in a tough battle between two quality forward packs.
Siosifa Talakai has become an on-field enforcer for the Sharks this season. His stints off the bench are filled with hard running, aggressive defence and doggedness to stay in the fight.
Talakai will make sure that the Raiders won’t easily push the Sharks’ pack around, and that the Raiders will have to bring their very best to get the win.
Head to Head
The Raiders have played the Sharks 80 times, winning 38, losing 41 and drawing once.