6:00 PM (AEST) Friday, April 21 at GIO Stadium, Canberra
Round 8 of the NRL kicks off on Friday evening with the resurgent Canberra Raiders playing hosts to a Manly side that has gone from red hot to ice cold.
Canberra: Jack Wighton; Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Joseph Leilua, Jordan Rapana; Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer; Junior Paulo, Josh Hodgson, Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii, Elliott Whitehead, Joseph Tapine. Adam Clydsdale, Luke Bateman, Dunamis Lui, Iosia Soliola.
Manly: Tom Trbojevic; Jorge Taufua, Dylan Walker, Brian Kelly, Akuila Uate; Blake Green, Daly Cherry-Evans; Brenton Lawrence, Apisai Koroisau, Martin Taupau, Frank Winterstein, Curtis Sironen, Jake Trbojevic. Lewis Brown, Jackson Hastings, Darcy Lussick, Addin Fonua-Blake.
There have been 51 games between these two sides with Manly holding a comfortable lead, having picked up 30 wins to the Raiders 20 while 1 game has been drawn. Canberra ended a 5 game losing run against Manly in 2015 and have won 3 of the last 4 games since. Last year Canberra won 30-18 and then won again 44-30 late in the year in the last clash between the two.
Canberra opened their season with a tough game against the Cowboys in Townsville and went down in Golden Point thanks to a freakish try. They were then belted by the defending premiers Cronulla in Round 2 and took out their frustration on the Wests Tigers in Round 3, smashing them 46-6. They had a tight 1 point loss to Canberra but have won their last three straight games emphatically. They beat the Eels 30-18, the Titans 42-16 and last week the Warriors 20-8.
Despite beginning their 2017 campaign with a 20-12 loss to the Parramatta Eels and a very poor performance in Round 2 against a South Sydney side who were coming off a first round loss to the Tigers, Manly had a scintillating 3 game run. They hammered the Cowboys in Townsville 30-8 before returning home to belt the hapless Bulldogs 36-0. In Round 5 they came up against the undefeated Roosters but held their nerve to win 18-12. Then they went from red hot to ice cold in form, copping a 35-10 hiding from the in-form Dragons and then going down 30-26 to Melbourne last week.
Jordan Rapana v Jorge Taufua – There’s plenty of good match ups all over the field here, but in the end, most of both sides attacking plays end with these two wingers getting the ball. And they’ll be defending each other in what will be a big clash. Both men are very strong and can get to the line despite plenty of defenders.
Canberra at home and in good scoring form against a Manly side who were woeful in the first half of their last two games. Canberra aren’t a side known for taking it easy after getting a halftime lead, so If Manly don’t turn up in the first half, this could get messy.