Raiders v Roosters Preview

Raiders v Roosters
Canberra Stadium
Sunday 2pm

One could be forgiven for thinking these two sides don’t actually want to play finals football.

Whenever they get into a place to make a charge, or play in a match most expect they will win, they have invariably produced poor football, or at least costly lapses.

Frustration levels for the fans must be at an all-time high; the Raiders made it three losses in a row by falling to the Bulldogs and the Roosters once again failed to win back-to-back games by letting the Warriors beat them at the death.

Honestly, at this rate, neither will be involved in the playoffs for the Telstra Premiership, although the Roosters are currently eighth and in range.

They need to win only five more matches so perhaps their win/loss sequence will see them scrape in.  

The Raiders are back in 12th on the ladder; they must be next to no chance to get their required seven wins from 10 games.

Whatever the scenario, this is a game both teams will be pencilling in as a victory and it’s one they’ll need if they’re to make the push home.

The home-side Raiders have won only two matches in Canberra so far this season, a far cry from the fortress Canberra Stadium has been in the past. They are without State of Origin stars David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, with Troy Thompson to play prop for Shillington and Joe Picker coming into the back row for Learoyd-Lahrs.

Travis Waddell, Danny Galea and Sam Mataora have been added to a six-man bench.

The travelling Roosters must do battle without Mitchell Pearce and Nate Myles but they welcome Braith Anasta back into the side.

Todd Carney moves to halfback, Anasta reverts back to five-eighth.

Mose Masoe replaces Myles at prop, Frank Paul Nuuausala moves to lock and Joseph Leilua comes into the second row.

Tom Symonds, Daniel Conn and Lopini Paea have been added to a six-man bench.

Watch out Raiders:
He’s back… Todd Carney returns to Canberra Stadium to wreak havoc! Unlike in the past where his damage has been done in vehicles or bars, Carney vows to catch attention on the actual field this weekend; should he catch fire, the Raiders are in trouble.

Having moved around positions this season Carney returns to Canberra in his old No.7 jersey and it will be a bitter pill for Raiders fans to swallow, given that utility Adam Mogg is filling the same role for the Green Machine at the moment.

Carney will run the Roosters’ show in Mitchell Pearce’s absence and he poses a true danger. With eight line-breaks, nine line-break assists, seven try assists and eight tries already this year he is proving a real game-breaker. After copping some venom from Canberra fans in the Sydney match earlier this season, the former Raider can expect a doubly brutal reception.

Watch out Roosters: It doesn’t seem to matter how much homework clubs do and how much they pinpoint the Raiders’ right-side attack as the danger area… the Green Machine still finds a way to make inroads.

With centre Joel Thompson blitzing the NRL and Bronson Harrison feeding him great second-phase ball, the Raiders are pretty deadly on the right. Thompson now has 16 line-breaks and nine tries from 14 games, after grabbing another four-pointer against the Bulldogs. The Roosters’ defenders need to wrap up the ball on Harrison and find a way to cut Thompson down to size – or face consequences.

Where it will be won: 80-minute application. These two sides, along with Newcastle and North Queensland, are the poster children for patchy performances.

The Roosters are not only inconsistent week to week but are inconsistent inside games, looking super-fluent one minute… and super-amateur the next.

The Raiders are no better, playing like a finals team for pockets of games and then turning into a third-rate side from France (no disrespect intended to our French readers). You know what: given stoppages, 80 minutes isn’t that long boys – it’s shorter than most bad movies. How about you concentrate for the entirety; you may even win, and win well.

Of course, you can’t be perfect an entire match. It takes experience and a calming influence to have sides on track throughout a game. Someone needs to control the tempo to go with the ebb and flow of your team. Braith Anasta is the key for the Roosters in this regard, while Terry Campese needs to step up for the Raiders.

Whichever outplays the other and dictates the pace of the game will likely be on the winning side.  

The history: Played 49; Raiders 22, Roosters 27. It’s game number 50 between these two sides and the Roosters come in having won the past two matches, including a 36-6 triumph earlier this season.
 
The tri-colours have actually won five of the past eight but the Raiders lead the venue head-to-head stats with nine wins from 14 games.

These two teams don’t usually provide a close game, with the average margin of victory in the past eight being more than 24 points.
 
Conclusion: Both sides bring little form into the contest, making it hard to be confident about either.

The Roosters have a stronger halves combination and haven’t lost as much oomph from their pack as the Raiders, but they still lack a killer instinct.

Canberra are good enough to overcome the loss of their big-gun forwards, but you wouldn’t bet the farm on them. Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Match officials: Referees – Steve Lyons & Tony De Las Heras; Sideline Officials – Russell Turner & Luke Potter; Video Ref – Phil Cooley.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm.