Raiders v Bulldogs: Papalii dropped, Elliott elevated
Both teams have been inconsistent to start the season and will want to reverse their fortunes ahead of this huge round five clash.
The Canterbury Bulldogs are coming off a loss to Souths but will take some confidence into the game after the success of their left edge attack of Brett and Josh Morris. Moses Mbye being cleared of a broken jaw is also a huge boost for the club, although the manner in which they lost in the dying stages of the contest would disappoint coach Dean Pay.
Meanwhile the winless Canberra Raiders were dubbed "soft" by coach Ricky Stuart last week and are desperate to turn their fortunes around.
Canberra Raiders v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 7.50pm Thursday at GIO Stadium
The key match-up: Both forward packs are huge so the battle in the middle will be crucial with both sides missing key players in Aidan Tolman (ankle) and Josh Papalii (dropped).
For the Raiders to win: Fewer penalties late in the tackle count, better decisions in defence along with improved line speed are all needed for Canberra to break through for the win.
For the Bulldogs to win: They'll need to continue the good form of their left edge, most impressively Josh Morris last round, to attack the Raiders out wide.
Raiders Stat Attack: If Canberra are on the losing end again, it will be the club's worst start to a season since 1982.
Bulldogs Stat Attack: Canterbury recorded 604 post-contact metres in their round 9 clash with the Raiders last season, the Bulldogs' third highest total for 2017.
And another thing: Despite Raiders fullback Jack Wighton being named, the impact of the investigation of an alleged nightclub fight in the pre-season remains to be seen on the winless side.
Prediction: Raiders by 4.
Match: Raiders v Bulldogs
Round 5 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Raiders: 2 Nick Cotric, 19 Michael Oldfield, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aiden Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Luke Bateman
Interchange: 14 Ata Hingano, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Dunamis Lui, 17 Liam Knight
Jack Wighton is the late withdrawal from the Raiders side, with Nick Cotric moving to fullback and Michael Oldfield onto the wing. Jack Murchie was the other Raiders player to be dropped from thw squad 24 hours out from kick-off. Blake Austin and Josh Papalii will not play against the Bulldogs after being dropped from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off. Liam Knight returns to the 17. Luke Bateman moves to lock and Elliott Whitehead to the second row.
Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Jeremy Marshall-King, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Adam Elliott
Interchange: 15 Danny Fualalo, 17 Kerrod Holland, Greg Eastwood, 20 Asipeli Fine
Greg Eastwood has made the final 17 for Canterbury and will start the match on the interchange bench. John Olive and Rhyse Martin were the final two players from dropped from the bench an hour before kick-off. Aiden Tolman is out due to an ankle injury, with Adam Elliott starting at lock and Kerrod Holland joining the bench. Fa'amanu Brown and Francis Tualalo were the two players dropped from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 65, Bulldogs 37 wins, Raiders 28 wins
Matches at venue: Played 23; Bulldogs 13 wins; Raiders 10 wins
2017 results: Bulldogs won 16-10 in round 9
Points per game: Raiders 22.8; Bulldogs 16.5
Points conceded per game: Raiders 28; Bulldogs 26
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League