After a solid victory away from home in Newcastle last weekend, Wests Tigers will once again hit the road on Sunday in a bid to keep their finals hopes alive for 2018.
Dominant for the opening 60 minutes against the Knights before a combination of injuries and errors forced the visitors to hold off a Kalyn Ponga-inspired comeback, Ivan Cleary's side find themselves two wins behind the Sharks (6th), Broncos (7th) and Warriors (8th) with just four games remaining in the year.
It's likely Wests Tigers will need to win all four of those games if they are to sneak in to the finals series for the first time since 2011 — starting with arguably their toughest of those games this Sunday afternoon.
Despite still having to face top four hopefuls in the Dragons and Rabbitohs this year, Wests Tigers' matchup against the Canberra Raiders in the nation's capital is one that will have most fans nervously holding their breath given the recent history between the two. Particularly at GIO Stadium, it's been a tough time for Wests Tigers in the past few years and a 48-12 drubbing a the hands of the Raiders when they met earlier in the year at Campbelltown wouldn't have gone far to ease those doubts this weekend.
However, as they say in rugby league, you can only take things one week at a time and this game is certainly no exception to that. Wests Tigers are in good form — having won three of their last four games — and also received some good news with Benji Marshall named despite doubts about his calf injury.
Assuming Marshall does indeed take to the field on Sunday, Cleary's side have proven they can beat any team in the competition and they'll be confident of doing the same against Canberra — particularly given the Kiwi international's incredible record against the green machine since his debut year back in 2003.
Marshall has never lost to the Raiders in Canberra and just once outside of the nation's capital, and if he can add to the good form of Luke Brooks and Robbie Farah last week, Wests Tigers are every chance.
Canberra have been their own worst enemy in recent weeks and a reshuffled backline courtesy of Jack Wighton's suspension and Jarrod Croker's injury certainly hasn't helped their cause. The Raiders will no doubt be stinging after surrendering another comfortable second half lead last week, and Ricky Stuart will have his side primed to come out and produce a better performance in front of their home fans, but there are still avenues for Wests Tigers to exploit on Sunday that will give the visitors plenty of confidence.
With everything on the line for Wests Tigers as they start essentially a finals series before the finals series, it's definitely shaping as a game not to be missed between two sides determined to give it their all.
Date — Sunday, August 12, 2018
Time — 2:00pm AEST
Venue — GIO Stadium, Canberra
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via FOX League (Ch.502)
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873
Live Stream — Foxtel Go, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (exc. Australia)
LATEST CROWNBET ODDS
H2H — Canberra Raiders ($1.55), Wests Tigers ($2.60)
Line — Canberra Raiders -4.5 ($1.92), Wests Tigers +4.5 ($1.92)
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 22 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Nick CotricFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses Mbye
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Brad AbbeyWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Blake AustinCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Esan Marsters
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Joseph LeiluaCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Kevin Naiqama
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 12 Elliott WhiteheadFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam WilliamsHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Raiders is number 14 Dunamis LuiProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Russell Packer
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie Farah
Prop for Raiders is number 15 Shannon BoydProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Ben Matulino
2nd Row for Raiders is number 8 Iosia Soliola2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Michael Chee-Kam
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Joseph Tapine2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 13 Elijah Taylor
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Josh PapaliiLock for Wests Tigers is number 17 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange for Raiders is number 10 Junior PauloInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luke Garner
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Siliva HaviliInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Alex Twal
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Luke BatemanInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Sauaso Sue
Interchange for Raiders is number 19 Jack MurchieInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Jacob Liddle
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak replaces Corey Thompson (ankle) on the wing, while Robbie Rochow returns to the bench in place of Jacob Liddle. Benji Marshall (calf) has been named with Tyson Gamble in the reserves alongside Mahe Fonua (arm), who has not played since picking up an injury against Canberra in Round 15. The Raiders are unchanged from their last start defeat to the Penrith Panthers in Round 21.
Overall — Played 35, Wests Tigers 18, Canberra 16, Drawn 1
At McDonald Jones Stadium — Played 18, Wests Tigers 9, Canberra 9, Drawn 0
Last Time They Met — Canberra Raiders 48 def. Wests Tigers 12 (Rd.15, 2018)
Match Referees — Ben Cummins and Chris Butler
Touch Judges — Nick Beashel and David Munro
Review Officials — Bryan Norrie and Steve Chiddy