Ivan Cleary's bus has overseen a few disruptions of late to the team with late withdrawals of key players such as Marshall and Fonua being dropped for showing up training late. Despite this they have competed well in nearly every contest and sit one win outside the eight. Their form has tailed off compared to early in the season however they continue to punch above their weight and things are looking positive under the guidance of Cleary.
The tale of the Canberra Raiders season has been set by failing to finish off games, coming agonisingly close now on four seperate occasions. Had they won all four of those matches they would be sitting 6th on the ladder, as it stands they are 10th and with no guarantees of finals football this year.
Both sides will be wary of this being a must win game and the season enters the second half. I don't see any of the current top eight sides relenting their positions with ease from here on in and so a big confidence-boosting performance on Sunday is imperative.
2017 - Round 3 - Canberra Raiders 46 def. Wests Tigers 6 at GIO Stadium
2016 - Round 26 - Canberra Raiders 52 def. Wests Tigers 10 at Leichardt Oval
2016 - Round 8 - Canberra Raiders 60 def. Wests Tigers 6 at GIO Stadium
2015 - Round 22 - Wests Tigers 20 def. Canberra Raiders 18 at GIO Stadium
2015 - Round 7 - Canberra Raiders 30 def. Wests Tigers 22 at Leichardt Oval
Two of the most attacking sides in the competition always pile on the points with Canberra coming out on top of the ledger with four wins from the last five encounters.
|1||Corey Thompson||Jack Wighton|
|2||Malakai Watene-Zelezniak||Nick Cotric|
|3||Esan Marsters||Jarrod Croker|
|4||Mahe Fonua||Joseph Leilua|
|5||Kevin Naiqama||Michael Oldfield|
|6||Tyson Gamble||Blake Austin|
|7||Luke Brooks||Aidan Sezer|
|8||Russell Packer||Iosia Soliola|
|9||Elijah Taylor||Josh Hodgson|
|10||Ben Matulino||Shannon Boyd|
|11||Chris Lawrence||Joseph Tapine|
|12||Robbie Rochow||Elliot Whitehead|
|13||Matthew Eisenhuth||Josh Papalli|
|14||Alex Twal||Siliva Havili|
|15||Matt McIlwrick||Luke Bateman|
|16||Josh Aloiai||Dunamis Lui|
|17||Tim Grant||Liam Knight|
|18||Michael Chee-Kam||Emre Guler|
|19||Tyson Gamble||Brad Abbey|
|20||Sauaso Sue||Jack Murchie|
|21||Chris McQueen||Craig Garvey|
The facts that matter
Whilst they do not have a distinct style in attack their enterprising and never say die football has reaped the rewards this season. It suits their attacking minded backs with the likes of Fonua, Thompson and Marsters finishing off some hot potato football. Up against the Raiders who are not reknowned for their defence this may pose all sorts of problems.
Their dogged approach in both attack and defence will need to return, in was such a feature earlier in the season and the polish of Brooks on the end of sets really piled the pressure on oppositions. They come across as a side capable of adopting different styles of play so they may surprise on Sunday with their game plan. One thing we have learned is that they have a strong belief in the current squad and their unity will be integral on Sunday.
Need to stay switched on for the 80 minutes last week against the Sharks they led 10-2 at half-time only to be overrun in the second half. Their unity is the greatest asset and need to adopt the mentality of showing up for every play that was so evident earlier in the season. Won't beat you with their kicking game or combinations in attack but their commitment and competitiveness should keep them in the match for the entire 80.
They have some fantastic individuals, and at times when they get it right they all gel together superbly however for mine a few players namely Wighton and the halves are still struggling to bring other players into the game. They need to amend this if they are to beat a side commended for trusting and playing for each other.
Have a big mobile forward pack that can punch through the middle. Josh Papalli looms as a key figure as his impact can spur on their other forwards to unleash their potential. Too often their forwards have gone missing and it cruels the attack of an extremely talented side.
The inclusion of Hodgson is massive and his influence to steer the team around the park could be crucial to allowing Austin to use his running game more and the load on Sezer's shoulders to be lifted.
A Sunday afternoon at Campbelltown and the Tigers players will be up for this one. Neither side have an extensive injury list and so we are witnessing close to full strength teams on either side. The Raiders have a match winner in Josh Hodgson however I feel the togetherness of the Tigers will prove too much, Tigers by 4.