Raiders v Knights: Schick Preview

Schick Hydro Preview: Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights
GIO Stadium
Friday, 6pm

There are reports coming out of the nation's capital that newsagencies have run out of calculators, set squares and protractors as Raiders fans frantically work on an algorithm that has them playing finals footy in 2017.

Despite a narrow loss to the Panthers last week, Ricky Stuart's men remain a mathematical chance of playing in the post-season so long as they win their remaining two games and the teams above them continue to falter.

It's not an enviable position to be in after 24 rounds but they'll take it ahead of Friday night's game against bogey side the Knights who are coming off a heavy loss to the Storm that snapped an impressive three-game winning streak 

Despite sitting at the foot of the ladder you know the Knights will fight until the final whistle of Round 26 but their task has been made difficult with five-eighth Brock Lamb (knee) and Luke Yates (ankle) set to miss the rest of the season. 

As a result, Jack Cogger comes into the halves, Jamie Buhrer shifts to the back row to replace Sione Mata'utia (concussion) and Mickey Paea joins the bench. There is some good news with Nathan Ross set to return from a back injury. 

Why the Raiders can win: The Storm might have exposed them through the middle last week but you can bet your bottom dollar that Canberra will test Newcastle on the edges on Friday night. The Green Machine's biggest strength lies out wide where they have scored 66 tries in 2017 while the Knights have struggled defensively on the fringes, conceding 73 four-pointers already this year. If they can win the ruck, expect the Raiders to let the ball sing at every opportunity. 

Why the Knights can win: Scoring points hasn't always come easily for the Knights in recent years but that hasn't been an issue for them against the Raiders. In fact, Newcastle has scored 20+ points in nine of their past 10 matches against the Green Machine resulting in four wins and a draw. There is nothing to suggest that won't continue on Friday night.  

 


The history: Played 46; Raiders 25; Knights 19; Drawn 2. Newcastle match up well with the Raiders and took them to golden point twice in 2016 (they lost one and drew the other) and that form continued in Round 10 when they claimed a comfortable 34-20 win at home. 

What are the odds: Sportsbet has surprisingly seen more than twice the money put on Newcastle, thanks largely to the big price on offer. Newcastle have even been backed at as much as $18 to win 13+ now that Canberra are only a mathematical chance of making the finals. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.

Match officials: Referee: Grant Atkins. Assist referee: Chris Butler. Sideline officials: Jason Walsh and Rickey McFarlane. 

Televised: Fox Sports 2 – Live coverage from 6pm.

NRL.com predicts: If the Raiders are fair dinkum about stealing a spot in the finals then they simply must win and win well. They've got the advantage of playing before the teams above them on the ladder so victory on Friday would apply some real pressure to the Dragons, Cowboys and Sea Eagles. We've crunched the numbers and the Raiders will get it done by 14.