2:00 PM (AEST) Sunday, August 13 at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Round 23 of the NRL draws to a close on Sunday when the Warriors play hosts to a Canberra side still desperately hanging on to their slim finals hope.
Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; David Fusitua, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Ata Hingano, Mason Lino; Jacob Lillyman, Nathaniel Roache, Ben Matulino, Bunty Afoa, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering. Issac Luke, Sam Lisone, Isaiah Papalii, Jazz Tevaga.
Canberra: Jack Wighton; Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Joseph Leilua, Jordan Rapana; Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer; Junior Paulo, Josh Hodgson, Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine, Elliott Whitehead. Kurt Baptiste, Clay Priest, Dave Taylor, Luke Bateman.
There have been 37 games between these two sides with the Raiders winning 20 games to the Warriors 17 victories. The Raiders have won the last three straight games, with the most recent being a 20-8 win in Round 7 this year.
The Warriors had a hard fought win in their opening match against last years wooden spooners Newcastle. The Knights finished fast but the Warriors held on to win 26-22. In Round 2 they were no match for the visiting Melbourne Storm, who won the game 26-10 in heavy rain. The Warriors then lost a disappointing game in Christchurch against the Bulldogs 24-12 before failing against the Dragons 26-12. They turned things around with back-to-back victories over the Titans and Parramatta but were disappointing in their loss to Canberra. They were very strong in their narrow loss to the Storm on ANZAC Day before picking up a gutsy 1 point win over the in-form Roosters. But then they somehow managed to lose to the Panthers 36-28 despite leading 28-6 at halftime in Round 10. The Warriors had another second half capitulation against the Dragons the following week, going down by 16 before beating a second string Broncos outfit 28-10. In Round 13 the Warriors went down 32-24 to the Eels before beating the Titans 34-12 and the Dogs 21-14. Since then, they have lost 5 straight games against Manly 26-22, Penrith 34-22, Cowboys 24-12, Cronulla 26-12 and last week, the Knights 26-10.
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 the Warriors 20-8 before losing three straight to Manly by 2, the Bulldogs by 6 and surprisingly by 34-20 against last placed Newcastle. After they ground out an ugly win against Parramatta 22-16 in Round 11, the Raiders followed it up with a gutsy 24-16 win over the Roosters without their Origin stars but have lost their next two games by tight margins, by 1 point to Manly and then by 4 thanks to a try on full time by Penrith. After the bye, the Raiders went down to the Broncos 30-20 before losing a very winnable game against the Cowboys in Round 17 by 13 points. The Raiders finally won a close game, when they downed the Dragons by 4, but lost another the following week to the Storm by just 6 points. Canberra rolled through Souths 32-18 before dominating Cronulla 30-12 last weekend.
Halves – The Raiders halves have had a very poor year compared to last season, but are starting to show some signs of improvement. They will be up against a pair of rookie halves.
Canberra have everything to play for and are starting to show some of their form from last year.