Panthers v Raiders: RCG on bench; Sezer's return forces reshuffle
The Panthers managed to snap a two-game losing streak in dramatic fashion after running down the hapless Sea Eagles at Lottoland last start, while the Raiders were schooled by the Storm at AAMI Park.
Both sides love to attack, but defence, neither team's strong point, will win this game.
Match: Panthers vs Raiders
Round 21 -
Venue: Panthers Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: James Maloney v Blake Austin. Canberra pivot Austin is off to Warrington at the end of the season, but he will be desperate to outplay the NSW Blues' five-eighth. Maloney's form has been scratchy recently - he needs to lift with the semi-finals looming
For the Panthers to win: Improve their collective attitude in defence. Down 24-6, they got out of jail late in a scarcely believable triumph against Manly. Canberra have the ability to post rapid points if they seize momentum, which no doubt will have been a focus for Anthony Griffin and his coaching staff this week.
For the Raiders to win: Inject Jordan Rapana into the contest as often as possible. The Kiwi international looks dangerous every time he touches the ball, but isn't utilised enough by the green machine. Josh Hodgson also needs to dominate opposing hooker Sione Katoa.
Panthers Stat Attack: Maloney isn't renowned for his defence, with 125 missed tackles telling the story. His team do boast the best kick conversion percentage (86), fractionally ahead of the Storm (85).
Raiders Stat Attack: Ricky Stuart's men are the kings out of dummy half, chalking up 280 runs, equal top with the Bulldogs. There is no doubt Hodgson offers poise and quality out of dummy half, while his teammates playing in the back-line aren't afraid for tough metres up the middle. Discipline has been a constant issue, with 181 penalties conceded the most in the competition.
And another thing: The two clubs developed a fierce rivalry in the early 90s, splitting grand final wins at the Sydney Football Stadium. Canberra, with now coach Ricky Stuart calling the shots at halfback, won 18-14 in 1990 before Greg Alexander inspired Penrith to lift the silverware 12 months later at the same venue. Earlier this year, the Panthers won a high quality encounter at GIO Stadium, 23-22 thanks to a late field goal from Nathan Cleary.
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Tyrone PeacheyFullback for Raiders is number 1 Nick Cotric
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Josh MansourWinger for Raiders is number 2 Brad Abbey
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Waqa BlakeCentre for Raiders is number 3 Blake Austin
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Dean WhareCentre for Raiders is number 4 Joseph Leilua
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 James MaloneyFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Aidan Sezer
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam Williams
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses LeotaProp for Raiders is number 8 Iosia Soliola
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Sione KatoaHooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh Hodgson
Prop for Panthers is number 10 James TamouProp for Raiders is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Joseph Tapine
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Isaah Yeo2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Panthers is number 13 James Fisher-HarrisLock for Raiders is number 13 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone MayInterchange for Raiders is number 14 Dunamis Lui
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Trent MerrinInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Shannon Boyd
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Corey Harawira-NaeraInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Siliva Havili
Interchange for Panthers is number 18 Reagan Campbell-GillardInterchange for Raiders is number 17 Luke Bateman
Panthers: In the only change from last week prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard (jaw) is a late inclusion on the interchange bench in place of Jack Hetherington. Kaide Ellis was cut an hour before kick-off.
Raiders: The Raiders are 1-17 as named on Tuesday. Aidan Sezer (hamstring) returns in the halves, allowing Blake Austin to replace Elliott Whitehead in the centres. Whitehead returns to the second row, bumping Sia Soliola to prop and Luke Bateman to the bench. Brad Abbey has been shifted from fullback to wing with Nick Cotric getting a run at the back. Shannon Boyd (calf) also returns on the bench, while Jack Murchie and Liam Knight were cut an hour before kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 73; Panthers 37 wins, Raiders 35 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Panthers won 23-22 at GIO Stadium in round 14
Points per game: Panthers 21.6; Raiders 24.1
Points conceded per game: Panthers 18.0; Raiders 22.8
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: I like the Panthers to win this. They showed a bit of ticker last week in a game that looked gone and have more incentive that the Raiders. If the Panthers are going to be a chance in the finals they need to start their push now. They've been disappointing over the last couple of months after showing so much potential and promise earlier on. They should get some players back from injury and that'll be a big boost at this end of the season.
Tip: Panthers by 12