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NRL Match Preview: Raiders v Knights

The Canberra Raiders will return home to take on the Newcastle Knights at GIO Stadium in round 15 action on Sunday afternoon.

The Raiders will be looking to bounce back after last weekend's loss to the red hot Broncos. Despite the loss, the green machine will be coming into this game confident having won four of their past six matches.

A win this weekend would earn the Raiders a very important two points as they remain just one win outside the top eight. The Knights also sit two wins outside the top eight so both teams will be desperate for a result on Sunday. 

For the Raiders, Jordan Rapana will return on the wing after serving his one match suspension with James Schiller dropping back to the extended bench.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Xavier Savage
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Raiders is number 2 Nick Cotric
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick Lee
  • Centre for Raiders is number 3 Matthew Timoko
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Raiders is number 4 Sebastian Kris
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Enari Tuala
  • Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Dominic Young
  • Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 23 Matt Frawley
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Anthony Milford
  • Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Jamal Fogarty
    Halfback for Knights is number 21 Adam Clune

Forwards

  • Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
  • Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Zac Woolford
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
  • Prop for Raiders is number 10 Joseph Tapine
    Prop for Knights is number 15 Leo Thompson
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Hudson Young
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
  • Lock for Raiders is number 13 Adam Elliott
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann

Interchange

  • Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
    Interchange for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Ryan Sutton
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Simi Sasagi
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Corey Horsburgh
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Mat Croker
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 19 James Schiller
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Pasami Saulo

Reserves

  • Replacement for Raiders is number 16 Corey Harawira-Naera
    Replacement for Knights is number 18 Phoenix Crossland

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Nick Morel
  • Senior Review Official: Gerard Sutton

Last updated:

Last Time They Met

The Raiders were on the end of a disappointing 34-24 loss to the Knights at Suncorp Stadium in round 20 last year.

Key Matchups

Josh Papalii v Jacob Saifiti

As always, the battle in the middle will be a must-watch as Josh Papalii goes head to head with Jacob Saifiti.

Papalii has been one of the competition's best forwards for some time now and has proved that this season for the Raiders. He was also sensational in his performance for the Maroons in their State of Origin victory last Wednesday.

Papalii is averaging 118 running metres this season to go along with 29 tackle breaks and 23 offloads, and has been involved in a number of tries for the Raiders this season. 

Jacob Saifiti is also having a great 2022 season and that was proven when he was selected as part of the extended Blues squad for State of Origin Game One. Saifiti had a breakout 2021 season and has only improved since moving into the starting side this season, averaging 83 running metres and tackling at an efficiency of 95.5%.

It's crucial that both men lay a platform for their sides with some dominant attack and bruising defence. Whichever side wins this weekend will more than likely owe it to whichever man wins this battle in the middle.

Jack Wighton v Anthony Milford

Off the back of being the Blues best in State of Origin, the Raiders will be hoping Jack Wighton can continue his red hot form when he comes up against Anthony Milford.

Wighton has been back at the form which saw him win the Dally M medal in 2020. The five-eighth has scored three tries for the Raiders in his 11 appearances this year to go along with five try assists and seven line breaks.

Wighton will also be coming into this game with a huge amount of confidence after his performance for the Blues last Wednesday, where he ran for 184 metres and scored the first try of the match.

Anthony Milford will not take a step back as it was not too long ago that he was regarded as one of the competitions best players. Since joining the Knights only a few weeks ago, Milford already has a try assist, line break assist and forced four drop outs in his three appearances this season.

It will be up to both these game-breaking number sixes to be the primary playmaker for their teams in a game where there could be plenty of points scored. There is no doubt that whichever man can create more opportunities will give their side a greater chance of earning a victory on Sunday.

Xavier Savage v Kalyn Ponga

This will be an electric battle between two of the games most exciting fullbacks as Xavier Savage will get to test himself against the Queensland number one, Kalyn Ponga.

There is no doubt that Savage has proven in his limited playing time that he is a future superstar of the competition. Savage has improved every single week and has relished the opportunity of playing 80 minutes at fullback over the past few games. Savage has scored three tries and made four line breaks this season, proving to be a real point of difference for the green machine.

However, Kalyn Ponga will not take a backwards step to the young prospect, especially after reminding everyone of his brilliance last Wednesday. Ponga was one of Queensland's best in game one of State of Origin, setting up two tries and running for over 100 metres.

Savage will relish the opportunity to go up against the current fullback for the Queensland Maroons. It may just be one play from one of these players in attack or defence that could earn their side the win at GIO Stadium.

Head to Head 

The Raiders have won 19 of their 40 meetings against the Knights since 1998 with the boys from Newcastle having won 20, meaning that the Raiders can tie the head to head record with a win this weekend. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.