Raiders v Roosters Preview

Raiders v Roosters
Canberra Stadium
Sunday 2pm

SUNDAY afternoon’s clash pits two first-round losers together, with both desperate to get their seasons on track.

Canberra were in their match with the Wests Tigers up to their eyeballs before falling 34-26, while the Roosters were barely in their clash with South Sydney as they were belted 52-12.

Roosters coach Brad Fittler will be pleading for more effort from his players; if it’s not forthcoming it could be another long Sunday afternoon.

The tri-colours were totally outplayed by South Sydney and considering the attacking potency in the Canberra side it could be another half century against them should they not muscle-up.

Thankfully, Willie Mason has been named on a five-man bench and everyone involved at the club will be hoping he passes a fitness test to take his place in the side.

Despite being charged with drink driving during the week, Jake Friend has been named to take his place on the bench – but given Brett Seymour from the Sharks was sidelined by his club for alleged drunken behaviour during the week don’t be surprised if the decision on Friend is reversed.

The home side has named the same side that gallantly fell to the Wests Tigers on Monday night but has added Nigel Plum and Brett Kelly to make up a six-man bench.

With any luck their home fans will be out in force for their first match in the nation’s capital.

Watch out Raiders: Beware a wounded Mark O’Meley. This ‘old school’ prop takes losses harder than most, especially when his side is out-muscled. O’Meley battled away to 91 metres in 43 minutes last weekend and while this was a very reasonable performance it lacked his usual aggression.

The former Northern Eagle and Bulldog will be a man on a mission in Canberra. Look for him to plant some massive hits on the Green Machine and also expect him to bend the advantage line every time he takes the ball up.

Watch out Roosters: The Raiders have once again come into a season with second-phase football on their minds. Against the Tigers the Raiders popped out 20 offloads, more than any other side in the opening round, making their intentions very clear.

The Roosters only managed seven offloads which has them ranked equal 13th.

Bronson Harrison could prove an astute buy for the Raiders as he contributed eight offloads and as such will need to be watched by the Roosters. Former Rooster David Shillington is another who promotes the ball well, as does Terry Campese.

Where it will be won: This match will come down to the Roosters’ ability to be much better in attack and stiffer in defence.

The Raiders are going to score points, probably around 30 if not more unless the Roosters take some pride in their line. This doesn’t mean the Roosters can’t win.

Mitchell Pearce and Braith Anasta are the incumbent New South Wales halves and are able to lay points on with the best of them. To give them the chances and field position they’ll need, the Roosters’ forwards need to gain many more than the 950 metres they posted against the Rabbitohs. It comes down to attitude and who wants it more.

If the Roosters are motivated they’ll do whatever it takes to take the pain of last weekend away; if they aren’t the real deal in 2009, then they’ll wilt and be 0 from 2 heading into a Round 3 clash against the Wests Tigers.

The History: Played 47; Raiders 22, Roosters 25. The Raiders hold a 9-4 advantage at Canberra Stadium and have not been beaten by the Roosters in Canberra since 2004. They have also won three of the past four at any venue between the two sides.

Conclusion: The Roosters’ confidence has to have some large dents. They were humiliated by Souths and had also suffered some similar pain throughout the trials.

Going to Canberra is a tough trip at the best of times and the Roosters haven’t won there in half a decade so you’d have to be pretty brave to tip them. They are by no means out of the contest but it will take a monumental turnaround for them to take the points.

Stick with the Green Machine. They looked pretty good for the majority of the match against the Tigers and with a bit of luck may have won that match.

Match officials: Referees – Jared Maxwell & Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials – Mohamad Fajajo & David Abood; Video Ref – Tim Mander.

Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live 2pm.

* Statistics: NRL Stats.