If you’ve had enough of power plays, rumblings of discontent and leadership spills this week in Canberra, then 3pm Saturday should provide the perfect distraction! Afternoon footy returns to the nation’s capital as the Raiders host the Rabbitohs in Round 23 of the premiership. The Raiders enter this game on a high having knocked off the Roosters 14-12 in a gutsy defensive scrap. The Bunnies by contrast, let the floodgates open as they went down to the Broncos by 20 points in a rather flat performance.
While the Raiders have little more than pride left to play for, there will be no shortage of fire on the field. This is the Raider’s final home game of 2018 and in a season to forget for the club, they’ll want to give their fans plenty to cheer about as the ‘Green Machine’ blares over the speakers at GIO Stadium. For the Bunnies, a win here and favourable results elsewhere could see them take top spot on the ladder so there is no shortage of motivation for the Cardinal and Myrtle.
2018 – Round 7 – Rabbitohs 42 def. Raiders 22 at Central Coast Stadium
2017 – Round 21 – Raiders 32 def. Rabbitohs 18 at ANZ Stadium
2016 – Round 21 – Raiders 54 def. Rabbitohs 4 at ANZ Stadium
2015 – Round 9 – Raiders 30 def. Rabbitohs 22 at Barlow Park
2014 – Round 20 – Rabbitohs 34 def. Raiders 18 at GIO Stadium
These sides have already met once this season and it was the Rabbitohs that got the better of the Raiders, running out 20-point victors on the Central Coast. On that day, Greg Inglis terrorised the Canberra defence, capturing a 90m intercept try in that game. The Raiders have had the recent dominance over Souths though, winning four of their last six. There only other defeat in that time came at this weekend’s venue – GIO Stadium.
|1||Brad Abbey||Alex Johnston|
|2||Nick Cotric||Campbell Graham|
|3||Michael Oldfield||Greg Inglis|
|4||Joseph Leilua||Dane Gagai|
|5||Jordan Rapana||Hymel Hunt|
|6||Blake Austin||Cody walker|
|7||Sam Williams||Adam Reynolds|
|8||Dunamis Lui||Thomas Burgess|
|9||Josh Hodgson||Damien Cook|
|10||Shannon Boyd||George Burgess|
|11||Iosia Soliola||John Sutton|
|12||Elliott Whitehead||Angus Crichton|
|13||Josh Papalii||Sam Burgess|
|14||Emre Guler||Braidon Burns|
|15||Junior Paulo||Cameron Murray|
|16||Siliva Havili||Jason Clark|
|17||Luke Bateman||Tevita Tatola|
|18||Jack Murchie||Richard Kennar|
|19||Liam Knight||Tyrell Fuimaono|
|20||Makahesi Makatoa||Dean Britt|
|21||Aidan Sezer||Mawene Hiroti|
The facts that matter
The Raiders were impressive last week against the high-flying Roosters and showed they’re not just a one-trick pony. As the most potent attacking team in the 2018 competition, no one expected the Raiders to have any trouble breaking down the Roosters defence. What was a surprise was the mental resolve they showed in defending a slender two-point lead for much of that match. Better known for their late-game fade-outs, the Raiders showed genuine resolve to hold the Chooks out and claim the two competition points last Sunday. They must call on that defence once again this week as they face the second-most potent attack in the Rabbitohs.
The loss of Joseph Tapine is a big blow to the Raiders. He churned through 35 tackles last weekend against the Roosters – second only to the ever-reliable Josh Hodgson. Tapine’s omission also stifles the Raiders right-hand attack. His six tries are the most of any Canberra edge forward this year.
The troops have returned for South Sydney and they couldn’t have come at a better time. After an impressive win against the Storm in Round 21, the Bunnies have fallen to the Roosters and Broncos in quick succession. In both those games, their usually potent attack has looked disjointed and predictable. This week, the Rabbitohs welcome back winger Campbell Graham and fullback Alex Johnston however, there are whispers that Johnston may not actually lace up the boots this weekend. Coach Anthony Seibold is concerned Johnston’s injured hamstring may not hold up in the Canberra chill so don’t be surprised to see the Rabbitohs’ flyer rested. If that happens, Greg Inglis will shift to the fullback role following seven weeks out of the game.
The return of Inglis from a broken thumb will provide a huge lift to his Rabbitohs teammates who have looked flat in their recent outings. Inglis is South Sydney’s third most prolific try-scorer this season, despite the fact he’s played far fewer games than leaders Robert Jennings and Cody Walker. It’s not just points that Inglis delivers, he’s averaged 109 metres a game and provided ample go-forward for the Rabbitohs coming out of their own end.
After a season to forget for Ricky Stuart and his Raiders, spirits would have been high after their defeat of the Roosters. Canberra will be gunning for a second big scalp against the Rabbitohs on Saturday, especially in front of a vocal home crowd. The return of three key players for the Bunnies is huge, and comes at the perfect time as they look to build into the finals series. After a disappointing showing against the Broncos last weekend, expect the Rabbitohs to bounce back in a big way. Bunnies by 14.
The Raiders knocked off the Roosters last weekend. Can they do it again against the Bunnies? Let us know in the poll below.
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