The Canberra Raiders Harold Matthews Cup team will meet the Western Suburbs Magpies on Saturday to play for a place in next week’s grand final.
After defeating the Penrith Panthers in the first round of finals, the Raiders will face the undefeated Magpies in the semi finals at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium at 3.15pm on Saturday.
Fullback for Magpies is number 1 Luke LauliliiFullback for Raiders is number 1 Samuel Gash
Winger for Magpies is number 2 Nathaniel GallagherWinger for Raiders is number 2 Jack Clutterbuck
Centre for Magpies is number 3 William CraigCentre for Raiders is number 3 Siamani Leuluai
Centre for Magpies is number 4 Daniel WaqaCentre for Raiders is number 4 Jacob Iosefa
Winger for Magpies is number 5 tajh colquhounWinger for Raiders is number 5 Lekani Mpaso
Five-Eighth for Magpies is number 6 Heath MasonFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Sam Chapman
Halfback for Magpies is number 7 Luke KeppieHalfback for Raiders is number 7 Noah Marcantonio
Prop for Magpies is number 8 Jordan MillerProp for Raiders is number 8 Mathias Tomuli-Ah-Kuoi
Hooker for Magpies is number 9 Tallyn Da SilvaHooker for Raiders is number 9 Xavier Cacciotti
Prop for Magpies is number 10 James FolaumoetuiProp for Raiders is number 18 Elvis Nauer-Wood
2nd Row for Magpies is number 11 Jeremiah Leatigaga2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Noah Martin
2nd Row for Magpies is number 12 Lachlan Galvin2nd Row for Raiders is number 15 Jed Reardon
Lock for Magpies is number 13 Kit LauliliiLock for Raiders is number 13 Owen Hromow
Interchange for Magpies is number 14 Kohan LewisInterchange for Raiders is number 10 Jayden Wolfe
Interchange for Magpies is number 15 Ewan XuerebInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Noah Killeen
Interchange for Magpies is number 16 Thomas PatiInterchange for Raiders is number 19 Beniel Dakunibubului
Interchange for Magpies is number 17 Denzel Schaafhausen-MinoInterchange for Raiders is number 20 Jonah Anderson
Replacement for Raiders is number 14 Tui GEORGIEVSKI
Reserve for Magpies is number 18 Heith Pritchard
The Raiders finished the regular season in sixth place, before defeating the third placed Panthers in the first week of finals.
After finishing the 2021 season at the bottom of the ladder, the Raiders have impressed this season to make it to the semi finals.
Raiders Pathways and Performance Manager, Dean Souter, is full of praise for the team and their performances this year.
“I’m really heartened by how this group has gone, they get on really well together. After seeing how hard last year was for the same age group, it’s really important for the Raiders that this team has done well but it’s also really an endorsement of looking after our footprint,” Souter said.
“There’s a handful of players from last year’s team who were young enough to back up again this year and this particular group is quite strong.
Souter credits the team’s effort as a whole for how well they’ve performed this year.
“I think it’s the fact that we haven’t had to rely on any standouts as a collective group as the reason they are going so well. They are a really well-balanced team,” Souter said.
“They’ve got power in the middle, they’ve got speed on the edges, they’ve got good defensive communication."
Souter has also been impressed with several players across the park, including five-eighth Sam Chapman, who is still eligible to play for the team next season.
“His communication and ability to steer the team is just evident when you watch him play,” Souter said.
“I think Owen Hromow, who plays in the middle and Noah Martin, who plays on the edge, they are just very consistent every week.”
The 2022 season has also seen two players from Perth, Mathias Tomuli-Ah-Kuoi and Jack Clutterbuck, relocate to Canberra to be part of the team.
Souter praised the pair’s commitment to move across the country for the opportunity.
“We don’t often get kids that age relocate, find themselves a school and find themselves somewhere to live. Their families have supported them while they are living here.
“To get kids that age to come over and chase something, we expect it when you are 19, but when kids come over when they are 17. Their desire to play that level was rewarded and they are rewarding us now for giving them that opportunity.”
The team also sees players from the whole Raiders footprint represented including Riverina, Monaro and Canberra regions.
Souter has also been impressed with the commitment of the whole team, with several players travelling great distances multiple times a week for training and games.
“We have two or three players in our side that travel from Griffith and Leeton, to and from training twice a week,” Souter said.
“They train for two and a half hours and they’ve got to travel nine hours to get to training and back. When you put that in perspective and those people keep coming.
“There’s not only the travel, there’s the fatigue on the families, the cost associated with it all. That’s the kind of commitment that this group of people have got this year.
“And it’s not just from Griffith, we’ve got them coming from Wagga, from the South Coast, but that’s what people want to do, so that’s great.”
While the Magpies will be a tough test on the weekend, Souter knows the Raiders are up for the challenge.
“They (Magpies) are a quality team. I don’t think any team in the Harold Matts is unbeatable and I think any team can pop up and win in any week,” Souter said.
“I think our young fellas proved that against Penrith last week. It wasn’t a lucky win or anything, they just decided to show up and play the type of football they’ve been taught to play and they did it from one player all the way to the last player. If they can do that again this week they are going to be a strong chance.”
Peter Marropodi took over as coach of the team this year, having been involved in the Raiders coaching system over the past decade. Souter says his appointment in this role has been beneficial for all involved.
“Peter Marrapodi has been fantastic for this group and probably for the future of what these guys are going to look like going through,” Souter said.
“He’s been enthusiastic, he’s been thorough, the players absolutely love coming to training, you can just see it.”
Regardless of the result this weekend, Souter is proud of the team and their efforts this year.
“I’m very proud of the players, I’m very proud of the coaching staff, I’m really pleased that the Raiders are represented by our entire region,” Souter said.
“That makes me really happy and also that at a Harold Matts level that we don’t give enough credit to is that I’m so pleased with the buy in from parents.”
You can watch the Raiders Harold Matthews Cup semi final live on the Daily Telegraph website - https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/live-streams/league.
Photo credit: Our Footy Team.