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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Raiders round 7 preview: Attack on the mind

Parramatta Eels (1st) vs Canberra Raiders (5th) Saturday 7.35pm @Bankwest Stadium

The Raiders will be looking to produce some more points when they face the Eels on Saturday night, after failing to hit the scoreboard consistently over the past few weeks.

They were held to just one try last weekend by a Manly side that was decimated through injury, prompting coach Ricky Stuart to admit his side had been struggling for a while.

“We need to identify it, which we have, and it wasn’t just tonight – it is something we have been talking about for a couple of weeks now and we need to correct it,” said Stuart.

The Raiders most dangerous player has been Jack Wighton who continues to impress with his strong running game, while George Williams’ kicking game poses a threat.

Defensively, the Raiders have been solid the past two weeks, only conceding three tries, however all three of those tries have come on the Raiders right-edge.

The new look combination of Williams, Curtis Scott and Nick Cotric have leaked seven tries this year compared to the left-edge of Wighton, Jarrod Croker and Jordan Rapana who have conceded just two.

The Raiders have also been dealt a blow with Joe Tapine ruled out of the match with a knee injury. He has been replaced in the starting side by Hudson Young with Bailey Simonnson coming onto the bench.

Despite losing to the Roosters, the Eels impressed many last round and showed they are one of the teams to beat.

Star lock Nathan Brown will miss through suspension, the second time already this season he’s been suspended.

Their backline continues to look dangerous and their front row of Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard continue to play well.

The Eels have had a tough run with games against Manly, the Panthers and Roosters in the last three weeks so we’ll see how much they have in the tank.

Key matchups

Jack Wighton vs Dylan Brown

Both players have been in stellar form. Wighton has picked up where he left off last season and has continually been the Raiders shining light in attack. The Eels right-edge defence will do well to keep him in check. Brown has been in great touch of the Eels and if that left-edge of the Raiders is a little suspect in defence, Brown and his outside men will take full advantage.

Josh Papalii vs Junior Paulo

These two former teammates will go toe-to-toe and will be pivotal to their teams go forward. Papalii has been a little bit down this year after a brilliant 2019 and only had 8 runs last week for 83 metres. The Raiders will need him back to his best so the backs can create off some extra space. Paulo has been great for the Eels this season and ran for 133 metres last week with a whopping 6 offloads to go with it. Hopefully we see a few collisions between these two heavyweights of the NRL.

Josh Hodgson vs Reed Mahoney

Hodgson was declared the best hooker in the game after the Raiders beat the Storm in round 3 but has failed to live up to that title since. There’s no denying the quality of Hodgson but her requires more from his forwards to allow him to create like he usually does. Mahoney has been touted as a possible Queensland representative player after his great form for the Eels. He doesn’t posses the skill of Hodgson but his defensive work and ability to make the right decision out of dummy-half makes him a quality player to look out for.

Full teams:

Raiders Eels 
1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad1Clinton Gutherson
2Jordan Rapana2Maika Sivo
3Jarrod Croker3Michael Jennings
4Curtis Scott4Waqa Blake
5Nick Cotric5Blake Ferguson
6Jack Wighton6Dylan Brown
7George Williams7Mitchell Moses
8Josh Papalii8Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9Josh Hodgson9Reed Mahoney
10Iosia Soliola10Junior Paulo
11Hudson Young11Shaun Lane
12Elliott Whitehead12Ryan Matterson
13Corey Horsburgh13Marata Niukore
 Bench Bench
14Siliva Havili14Ray Stone
15Emre Guler15Oregon Kaufusi
16Ryan Sutton16Brad Takairangi
17Bailey Simonsson17David Gower
 Reserves Reserves
18Dunamis Lui18Daniel Alvaro
19Matt Frawley19George Jennings
20Tom Starling20Jai Field

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