Raiders v Titans Preview

Raiders v Titans
Canberra Stadium
Sunday 2pm

The “resting” part of the year is over for Canberra – now the hard work really begins as they launch a bid to move up the NRL ladder against a spluttering Gold Coast outfit.

With both of their byes exhausted and a recent win against the Dragons, the Raiders have been boosted up to 11th on the table. But they will need to do much more if they are to compete in the finals in 2010.

Four wins coming into the halfway point of the year just isn’t enough and with just one win coming at home, the side owes the fans big time.

Luckily for them, they are about to meet a Gold Coast side that despite currently running fourth, is in a bit of a rut.

With their differential struggling a little at -61 the Raiders need some good wins to get back on track. A victory here could catapult them as high as seventh spot, a great place to be at the halfway point.

On the other hand a loss could see them slide a spot back to 12th, a much more difficult place to forge ahead from.

The side welcomes Origin duo David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs back to the side with Scott Logan and Joe Picker moving to the bench. Danny Galea and Sam Mataora are out, with David Furner adding two extra reserves at this stage in Adam Mogg and Josh Miller.

The Gold Coast comes into this match with back-to-back losses to Brisbane and the Roosters, two games they were expected to win. They also barely scraped by Newcastle in the weekend before the losing run.

It has seen them drop to fourth on the ladder and another loss could see them slide even further to seventh, undoing some of the great work they did early in the year.

A win could potentially see them head back up into second place, although a -14 differential is not becoming of a top-four side.
 
Changes in the side from the shock loss to the Roosters are minimal, with Joseph Tomane named to return from injury at Josh Graham’s expense and Bodene Thompson and Will Matthews added to a six-man bench.

Watch out Raiders:
He is a bit of a long shot to make it, but Anthony Laffranchi wants a big game to put himself in the frame for the Blues.

Currently averaging 99 metres gained a match, the former Wests Tiger knows it will take a high triple-figure performance to open eyes. However, he adds more than a high output of metres with six line-breaks, a line-break assist, a try assist and four tries so far this season.

Look for Laffranchi to run a “crash” line close to the stripe; if he finds a hole, he will make it five tries in 2010.

Watch out Titans: The Raiders have close to the same amount of line-breaks as the Titans despite playing one less game, but it is the ‘half-break’ statistics that could have the Gold Coast’s coaching staff a little worried.

With 28 half-breaks so far this season the Raiders are behind only the Bulldogs. This illustrates the Raiders aren’t far off creating more chances as they are already proving to be just a fraction off here and there.

When they get this sorted they become a much more dangerous proposition.

Where it will be won:
Right-side attack. Both sides show a tendency to attack to the right more often than not and this is reflected in the places they score their tries.

Canberra have scored 16 tries on the right side of the field compared to just six on the left side while the Titans have 20 tries heading right compared to 10 on the left.
 
With all the attack heading right, the left-side defenders need to be switched on. The Raiders have conceded 15 tries to opposition teams who hit the right side against their left-side defenders while the Titans have leaked 16 tries.

Interestingly, both sides have worse numbers scored against them on the opposite sides of the field, so we should still see some ball movement swinging to the left.

The history: Played 7; Raiders 3, Titans 4. The history for these two sides runs with the home side. The Titans are 4-0 at home versus the Raiders and more importantly for this clash the Raiders are 3-0 versus the Titans at home.

Last year the Titans only fell by six in the corresponding clash, much better than the 46- and 42-point losses before that.

Look further and you’ll discover five of the seven games have been decided by 20 points or more, so perhaps a big scoreline is on the cards.

Conclusion:
In the past you figured the Raiders would win, as it was a home game in winter. But the record in Canberra hasn’t been as good this year. The Titans are a better side on paper but are in pretty average form right now, making this a real toss up.

Tough to make a definitive call so go with your gut or get out the tarot cards…

Match officials: Referees – Gavin Badger & Phil Haines; Sideline Officials – David Abood & Adam Gee; Video Ref – Chris Ward.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm.