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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Raiders v Broncos round 14 preview: A golden opportunity

The Canberra Raiders will be looking to get back on the winners list and into top four calculations when they take on the Brisbane Broncos at GIO Stadium Canberra tomorrow night, Saturday 14 August 2020.

For the first time since the competition restarted the Raiders have named an unchanged side from the one that lost to the Penrith Panthers last round.

The Panthers got the jump on the Raiders to build a 24-0 lead at halftime, but the Raiders showed plenty of heart fighting back in the second half to lose 28-12.

The Raiders had won three consecutive games before last week and were getting back to their best defensive efforts, but their attack continued to stutter.

The Raiders are the lowest scoring team in the top eight by some margin with their highest score all season at just 24 points, which they have recorded three times.

This week’s match against the Broncos presents a golden opportunity for Canberra to improve their attacking record given Brisbane are the worst defensive team in the league.

The Broncos have allowed 30.8 points per game on average this season, having conceded scores of 59, 48 and 46 points.

The most important part of every game is making sure you get the win, but the Raiders will be looking to score some points and get their attack going as they move toward the finals.

The Broncos are currently enduring the season from hell having endured disastrous on-field losses, David Fifita signing with the Titans, salacious rumours about their coach, and numerous players breaching the NRL COVID protocols.

One of those players to breach the protocols was Tevita Pangai Junior, who has subsequently been stood down and fined $30,000 following multiple breaches.

Pangai has been replaced in the Broncos starting side by Ben Te’o, with 20-year-old Jordan Riki named to make his debut off the bench.

Key matchups

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Raiders) vs Darius Boyd (Broncos)

Nicoll-Klokstad epitomised the Raiders’ performance last week with an error-riddled first half followed by a terrific two-try second half. He is a key part of the Raiders and when at his best, making the Green Machine a much better side.

Boyd returned to fullback for the Broncos in round 12 against the Sharks with immediate success as he recorded four try assists. Boyd is far from the player he was when he represented Queensland and Australia, but he can still pose a threat if given enough space.

Jarrod Croker (Raiders) vs Kotoni Staggs (Broncos)

Croker has been a mainstay of the Raiders side for a long time now and is just so reliable in everything he does. He’s the best kick chaser in the game, his leadership is superb and his defence is solid but will need to be at its best this weekend when he comes up against one of the best strike centres in the game.

Despite the Broncos’ poor record this season Staggs has managed to score 7 tries in his 7 games to announce himself as one of the best centres in the NRL. Staggs possesses plenty of power when running the ball and his ability to break a one-on-one tackle is second to none. The Broncos will need to give Staggs enough one-on-one opportunities if they are to cause an upset in Canberra.

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