Wests Tigers will look to bounce back from a disappointing last-start loss to the Panthers when they take on the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium this Sunday.
After starting 2017 an impressive Round 1 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Jason Taylor’s men were left to rue a number of missed opportunities against the Panthers — bombing numerous chances before Penrith ran away comprehensive winners in the end.
Needing to respond this week with an improved performance, it won’t be an easy task for Wests Tigers as they make the trip down to the nation’s capital to face the Raiders — who they conceded 60 points to in Round 8 and 52 points in Round 26 last year.
Touted as premiership contenders pre-season, Ricky Stuart’s side have endured a tough start to season 2017 — going down in Golden Point to the Jonathan Thurston-inspired Cowboys in Round 1 before being rolled at home last week by the defending premiers.
Canberra have been more that competitive in both matches, but in a results driven business, the Raiders will be more than aware of the need to get their first win soon.
In the last 10 years, only five teams have made the finals after starting 0-3.
Canberra will be boosted by the return of captain Jarrod Croker this weekend, both from a leadership capacity but also on the field. His return allows Elliot Whitehead to move back to his position on the right edge, which will no doubt strengthen a side that was heavily targeted by Cronulla last weekend. Clay Priest also returns from suspension to join new recruit David Taylor on the bench, who is in line to make his Club debut.
Wests Tigers will welcome back Tim Grant from illness this weekend, with the prop forward a welcome return for Taylor’s interchange plans. Both he and captain Aaron Woods conceded post-match that Grant’s absence was felt by his team, and against the heaviest forward pack in the league, the former representative forward will be key.
Despite two heavy defeats to the Raiders in 2016, Wests Tigers still hold a good overall record against Canberra — winning six of the last eight games played against the Raiders at GIO Stadium while the hosts have won just five of their last 16 games at home played on a Sunday.
How that plays out on Sunday still remains to be seen.
Date — Sunday, March 19, 2017
Time — 4:00pm AEDT
Venue — GIO Stadium, Canberra
TV, LIVE STREAM AND RADIO INFORMATION
TV — Channel 9 and Fox Sports League (Ch.502) from 3:30pm AEDT
Radio — FM 104.9 Triple M, AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 873 2GB (check local guides)
Live Stream — NRL Digital Pass and Foxtel Go (subscription required)
Referees — Matt Cecchin and Alan Shortall
Touch Judge — Kasey Badger and Jason Walsh
Review Officials — Luke Patten and Bernard Sutton
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Kevin Naiqama 4. Michael Chee-Kam 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Sauaso Sue 12. Chris Lawrence 15. Josh Aloiai (Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 16. Joel Edwards 17. Jack Littlejohn 18. Junior Tatola 19. Justin Hunt 20. Kyle Lovett)
1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Crocker 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman (Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Sia Soliola 16. Clay Priest 17. Dave Taylor 18. Jordan Turner 19. Dunamis Lui)
Round 1 — Wests Tigers 34 def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
Round 2 — Penrith Panthers 36 def. Wests Tigers 2
Round 1 —North Queensland Cowboys 20 def. Canberra Raiders 16
Round 2 — Cronulla Sharks 42 def. Canberra Raiders 16
· Head-to-Head — Played 32, Wests Tigers 18, Canberra Raiders 14
· At GIO Stadium — Played 17, Wests Tigers 9, Canberra Raiders 8
· Last Time They Met — Canberra Raiders 52 def. Wests Tigers 10 (Rd. 26, 2016)
THREE FINAL FACTS
· Wests Tigers have won three of their last four Sunday afternoon games.
· Canberra have won five of their last eight games at GIO Stadium.
· Chris Lawrence has scored seven tries in his career against the Raiders, more than any other Wests Tigers player in this week’s team.