The Canberra Raiders Harold Mathews Cup side are ready for a return to finals football this weekend, as they take on the Penrith Panthers in an elimination final in Sydney on Friday afternoon.
After a winless 2021 season the Raiders have been a team reborn this campaign, collecting four wins to finish in sixth place.
The side did enough to be assured a finals position even before the last round of fixtures, with a 50-10 win over the North Sydney Bears sealing their spot.
Despite a narrow loss to the Parramatta Eels last week the Raiders head into this weekend with some serious form, collecting wins in three of their last four matches.
Friday’s game will however not be an easy one, coming up against a Penrith side who have lost just once all season.
The two teams have already played each other this year, with the Panthers coming out 22-18 winners in a close round three battle.
Raiders head coach Peter Marropodi is aware of just how good the Penrith side can be and knows that the team will have to be at their best on Friday if they want to progress to the second weekend of finals football.
“We have got to be really strong defensively around the middle of the field. We have to play well and we need to be really disciplined,” Marrapodi said.
“We think we have got the game to turn that result from earlier in the year around, and hopefully our finesse and our skill can bring a few points.”
That skill and finesse has certainly brought points over the past month, with the side averaging 30 points scored over their last four games.
Star centre Siamani Leuluai has been in the thick of those, scoring five tries in that period.
He will be accompanied by an unchanged line-up this weekend, with the standout halves partnership of Sam Chapman and Noah Marcantonio ready for the crucial fixture.
Speaking on how their preparation has been leading up to this weekend, Marropodi is pleased with how the squad have been training and is hopeful that that will be displayed on the field come Friday.
“They’ve been excellent. They've really come together for the last probably four to six weeks,” he said.
“The quality of training is reflected in the quality of their performance over the weekend. So, we're expecting a pretty good performance.”
With a preliminary finals spot on the line expect a big game from the Harold Matthews Cup side this weekend, with the boys guaranteed to do the club proud.