The Canberra Raiders will be looking to make it back-to-back wins this weekend when they take on the competition leaders of the Melbourne Storm this Thursday night at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The Raiders have won four of their last five matches as they surge towards a top eight spot. The green machine recorded an impressive 20-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons last Saturday as the side face a tough schedule home.
The Storm’s dominance continued last weekend when they defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 28-18 making it 17 wins in a row for the club.
The Raiders will look to clinch a finals birth as they will take on the Sea Eagles, New Zealand Warriors, and Sydney Roosters over the last month of the regular season.
Last Time They Met
The Melbourne Storm defeated the Raiders 34-10 in round 11 of this season at GIO Stadium.
Josh Hodgson v Brandon Smith
Josh Hodgson has been in outstanding form over the last month of the competition, leading the green machine around the park, showing incredible leadership and control in the Raider’s last few wins.
Hodgson’s defence and versatility to play lock-forward when his apprentice dummy-half Tom Starling comes into action, is when he’s most dangerous.
Although Hodgson’s opposite number-nine Brandon Smith, may be the most damaging ball-running hooker in the competition. Smith’s low centre of gravity allows him to get out from dummy-half and pick up easy metres for his side.
This match-up will be incredible to watch as both players possess similarities and will be important to either side as they battle it out on Thursday night.
Jack Wighton v Cameron Munster
The reigning Dally-M medallist Jack Wighton will have his work cut-out for him this Thursday night when he takes on his origin nemesis Cameron Munster.
This will be an exciting match-up between two of the best ball-running halves in the competition who can break a game open at will.
Both players have shown an improvement to their game management skills and kicking in-play over the course of this season which only adds to their already-impressive skillset.
The importance both these players are to their respected teams are second-to-none and may be the key difference for either side bagging the two points ahead of finals football.
Tom Starling v Harry Grant
It’s unusual for two interchange players to be such a key match-up but both of these hookers have an immediate impact and apply speed and direction when they make themselves present on the field.
Tom Starling has had yet another great season to his young career and has shown ability in attack and defence for the green machine over the course of this season.
Behind the Limelight: Episode 21
Starling has averaged 55 minutes a game off the interchange bench for the Raiders this past month and averaging an impressive 34 tackles a game.
Harry Grant for the Storm has had an unfortunate year being sidelined with injury but has shown his incredible ability when on the field, winning nine from nine games this year when playing.
Watch these two-replacement hookers when they take the field, as they could easily break this game open with their sheer speed and aggression in the middle of the field.