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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Raiders round 5 preview: Looking to bounce back

Wests Tigers (9th) vs Canberra Raiders (4th) Saturday 13 June 7.35pm @Campbelltown Stadium

The Canberra Raiders will look to bounce back against the Wests Tigers after a disappointing performance last week.

Coach Ricky Stuart will want for an immediate response from Canberra after accusing them of “playing like children” in their 34-18 loss to the Knights.

The Green Machine’s defence, which has been so good for the past 18 months, looked poor last week as Newcastle ran in six tries. Stuart described the performance as “the worst we (the Raiders) have defended for two years”.

The Raiders’ right edge looked particularly vulnerable with Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best causing problems all game long.

Stuart refrained from making changes to his side this week, backing in the same 17 from round 4 to return to their winning ways.

The Tigers were equally disappointing last week, going down to cellar dwellers Gold Coast in an effort that led coach Michael Maguire to say he was “sick and tired” of his side’s inconsistent performances.

Unlike Stuart, Maguire responded by changing his team, notably dropping veteran six Benji Marshall for Josh Reynolds.

The move came as a surprise to many as just the week before people were singing praises of the ‘ageless’ Marshall, but Maguire decided he needed to make a statement.

Key Match Ups

Josh Hodgson vs Harry Grant

Hodgson was dubbed as the game’s most influential hooker by Peter Sterling after his round 3 heroics against the Storm. He failed to live up to that tag last week but is full of quality and will no doubt want to lead his team back onto the winners list.

Since the Melbourne-Wests swap deal was orchestrated earlier this year young hooker Grant has burst onto the scene for the Tigers, proving to be dangerous in attack and leading to calls he’s a potential bolter to make the Queensland side.

Curtis Scott vs Joey Leilua

Scott looked shaky in defence last week with Ponga and Best wreaking havoc. Since the COVID break he hasn’t set the world alight in attack either, but his mobility could cause Leilua some issues particularly late in the match. Former Raider ‘BJ’ Leilua has also had a slow start at his new club and looked a little unfit to start the year. Canberra know better than anyone just how dangerous BJ is on his day so the right edge defence will have to lift their game.

Jack Wighton vs Josh Reynolds

It was mixed bag for Wighton last week. He kicked the ball out on the full, scored a leaping try and finished the game off-field after failing an HIA. He always looks most dangerous when running the ball so Raiders fans will be hoping he is fully fit and ready to rip into the Tigers defence.

Reynolds is an interesting inclusion for the Tigers. He hasn’t played much football over his 3 seasons at Concord and has had a few off-field issues of late to boot. Hopefully for his sake he can put that behind him and start playing some good footy once again.

On top of those key matchups the battle of the forwards is always pivotal and if the Raiders are to win this week they’ll need to sure up the middle after being exposed last week.

Improvement from Josh Papalii, Dunamis Lui and Corey Horsburgh will go a long way toward Canberra winning this one.

Full teams

1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad1Adam Doueihi
2Bailey Simonsson2David Nofoaluma
3Jarrod Croker3Joseph Leilua
4Curtis Scott4Moses Mbye
5Nick Cotric5Tommy Talau
6Jack Wighton6Josh Reynolds
7George Williams7Luke Brooks
8Josh Papalii8Josh Aloiai
9Josh Hodgson9Harry Grant
10Dunamis Lui10Zane Musgrove
11Joseph Tapine11Luciano Leilua
12Elliott Whitehead12Chris Lawrence
13Corey Horsburgh13Alex Twal
14Siliva Havili14Thomas Mikaele
15Emre Guler15Russell Packer
16Iosia Soliola16Michael Chee-Kam
17Jordan Rapana17Alex Seyfarth
18Tom Starling18Benji Marshall
19Matt Frawley19Luke Garner
20Kai O’Donnell20Billy Walters
21Michael Oldfield21Corey Thompson

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