Warriors v Raiders: Late Warriors re-shuffle, Raiders unchanged
As others around them struggle, the finals-bound Warriors are suddenly an in-form side.
They looked the goods in their win over the Panthers on Friday night, striking up a great mix of disciplined play and off-the-cuff attack.
Shaun Johnson was back to his brilliant best, while the likes of Bunty Afoa, James Gavet and Agnatius Paasi are all enjoying strong seasons in the middle of the field.
A home final remains a chance if Stephen Kearney's men score a strong win.
As for the Raiders, wins over top-two hopefuls Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs in the last two rounds will only add to the frustration they'll take out of 2018.
Josh Hodgson has made a huge difference to the composure levels of the team, and in Nick Cotric the Raiders have a player set to become one of the NRL's best outside backs in the coming years.
Match: Warriors v Raiders
Round 25 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match up: Issac Luke v Josh Hodgson. Luke has been in tremendous form of late, while Hodgson's absence from the Raiders for more than half the season served to remind everyone how important he is to their success. The Raiders need to limit Luke's effectiveness out of dummy half.
For the Warriors to win: If the Warriors keep completing at 86% like they did against the Panthers, they're going to be very hard to beat. Have they finally found the perfect mix between controlling the ball and still letting their ad-lib attacking game run wild?
For the Raiders to win: If the Raiders bench can repeat the run metre numbers they achieved against the Rabbitohs last week, they will be a great chance of winning. Emre Guler (117m), Junior Paulo (191m), Saliva Havili (71m) and Luke Bateman (71m) all performed well against the Rabbitohs.
Warriors Stat Attack: Can David Fusitu'a finish the year as the top try scorer? He holds a one-try lead over Cronulla No.1 Valentine Holmes heading into the last round. Holmes has the advantage of playing after Fusitu'a this weekend and knowing what total he will be chasing.
Raiders Stat Attack: When it comes to tackle breaks, the likes of Kalyn Ponga, James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are all looking up at NRL leader Nick Cotric. The 20-year-old Raiders star has enjoyed a stellar season.
And another thing: Due to a relatively poor for-and-against, fifth place appears the highest possible finish for the Warriors. If the Panthers and Dragons both win this weekend, the Warriors need a big win to secure a home final.
New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders, Friday 8pm (NZ) at Mt Smart Stadium
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Roger Tuivasa-SheckFullback for Raiders is number 1 Brad Abbey
Winger for Warriors is number 2 David Fusitu'aWinger for Raiders is number 2 Nick Cotric
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Peta HikuCentre for Raiders is number 3 Michael Oldfield
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Solomone KataCentre for Raiders is number 4 Joseph Leilua
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Mason LinoFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Blake Austin
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam Williams
Prop for Warriors is number 16 Bunty AfoaProp for Raiders is number 8 Dunamis Lui
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Issac LukeHooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh Hodgson
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Agnatius PaasiProp for Raiders is number 10 Shannon Boyd
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Adam Blair2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Iosia Soliola
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Tohu Harris2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Simon ManneringLock for Raiders is number 13 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaInterchange for Raiders is number 14 Emre Guler
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Isaiah Papali'iInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Junior Paulo
Interchange for Warriors is number 18 Leivaha PuluInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Siliva Havili
Interchange for Warriors is number 21 Tevita SataeInterchange for Raiders is number 17 Luke Bateman
Warriors: James Gavet has been left out of the Warriors team to take on Canberra after having been named to start at prop on Tuesday. Agnatius Passi moves from the bench into the starting side. Gerard Beale (hamstring) replaces Leivaha Pulu on the bench, with five-eighth Blake Green (calf) still at least a week away. Gavet and Karl Lawton were the two players left out 24 hours our from kick-off.
Raiders: The Raiders are unchanged. Aidan Sezer (hamstring) has been named in the reserves. Makahesi Makatoa and Karl Lawton were the two players omitted 24 hours out from game time.
Head-to-head: Played 39; Raiders 21 wins, Warriors 18 wins
Previous result: Warriors won 20-19 in Canberra in round 3
Points per game: Warriors 19.7; Raiders 23.8
Points conceded per game: Warriors 18.7; Raiders 22.6
Televised: Live on Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: The Raiders have been super impressive against the Roosters and Rabbitohs and they are finishing hard. They will give the Warriors a serious hitout ahead of the finals but with Simon Mannering playing his 300th game I think the home side will come out firing and rack up a fourth win from their last five games
Tip: Warriors by 8