By Stephen Gallagher
MATCH OF THE ROUND: ROUND 23 – Canberra Raiders V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Saturday, Canberra Stadium. 15.00 local time, 17.00NZT.
LAST WEEK: Canberra were competitive in a 28-22 loss to the first placed Roosters.
Canterbury fell short of a much needed win against the Titans going down 26-16.
THIS WEEK: Consecutive losses for a quality Raiders outfit means that there’s plenty of pressure on this team to come up with some goods at home. Their last home game saw a 64 point margin of embarrassment which they owe a turn around to fans. A nuggety opposition means that they have to show off plenty of what makes the Green Machine mean in order to come up with some goods.
If anything, this Bulldogs side shapes to be an imposing factor leading up to the finals series. A mobile group of massive forwards able to produce brilliant ball playing ability that shows and goes a long way. A tough road trip is always on the cards when you head to Canberra, however.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Canberra need to turn up. With a lot of pressure on them now in danger of missing out on a finals berth. I have plenty of belief in Canberra because time and time again they prove just how tough they can be. One loss at home this year should weigh in their favour. A fortress needs to be rebuilt. A lot of guys have to stand up and be accountable for their performances in recent weeks.
Canterbury Bankstown are built on their massive forward pack, and being able to use them in great effect whether coming off their line or getting over the white line at the other end. A bad injury to Barba hasn’t halted their run in any way, and with the play maker expected back for the finals will only boost their run. However this game stands in their way. More than just turning up will have to do. They have to be clinical in their performance. Especially as every win from here on in is very important.
THE BATTLE OF: Monstars. Monster star Dane Tilse has had a good season in green for the Raiders, and his height and impact in games are an effective way of go forward. His guts are never second guessed as he cannon balls himself in to the defensive line all game long.
James Graham has plenty of bite! (Sorry, I had to get that out of my system) This Englishman has been outstanding in Bulldogs colours and I expect that to continue once again in this match. He’s a halfback trapped in a front rowers body, and that’s an awesome thing for his team.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Blake Ferguson. If he’s not groping women, then he needs to be at his best for Canberra who have stuck with their bad boy. His performance at home needs to be a match winning one, because the ACT faithful deserve it from him.
Sam Kasiano. Let’s just say I am so happy this guy is a Kiwi. Makes it so easy to score tries from his massive size. He has a great attitude and is hard to stop anywhere on the field.
I think being thrashed two weeks ago at home is going to play a massive redemption point for Canberra. I can’t see them losing this one, they need to win this. The Bulldogs will be tough though. 26-18 Canberra.
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