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With news the Canberra Raiders are set to announce a new sponsor this week and having studied the 2003 draw, I am confident the Raiders will feature on free to air no less than five times between rounds 12-20.
It has already been confirmed the Raiders will play the Cronulla Sharks at Shark Park in round 12 on free to air television. This match represents the Raiders first regular season free to air match since April 2001, when the Raiders defeated the Parramatta Eels 22-6 at Canberra Stadium.
In round 13, the Raiders again play perennial television favourites, the Parramatta Eels, and with three of the top teams having the bye that round (Dragons, Knights, Broncos), the Raiders stand a very good chance of being the Sunday afternoon game with the Roosters v Bulldogs game sure to be the Friday night fixture.
The following week (round 14) the Raiders play the Broncos at Canberra Stadium and with both teams currently in the top four, this match is almost a certainty to be covered by Channel Nine. The only issue will be the timing. With the first Origin match the previous Wednesday, the NRL may schedule the match for the Sunday afternoon.
Round 15 sees the Raiders take on the Warriors at Ericcson Stadium and with both sides sure to be in the finals, this is another game that is a near certainty to be televised by Channel Nine. The other factor in the Raiders favour is the strength of the remaining six matches. They are as follows:
Sea Eagles v Sharks Wests Tigers v Roosters Storm v Bulldogs Panthers v Knights Eels v Cowboys Dragons v Rabbitohs
The Raiders v Warriors clash is by far the most even match of the round and has the most appeal in terms of semi final fortunes.
Round 16 sees Canberra with the bye.
Round 17 is Raiders v Storm. This match will most likely be covered by Foxtel due to the Broncos v Dragons match and Bulldogs v Knights match certain to be the free to air matches.
Round 18, Canberra play the Dragons at Oki Jubilee Oval and with both teams in great form, this is another match that is a near certainty to be covered by Channel Nine, most likely the Sunday afternoon match.
Round 19, the Raiders play the Wests Tigers. Certain to be covered by Foxtel.
Canberra also plays the competition heavyweights between rounds 20-26 with two matches against the Roosters, one away to the Bulldogs and a home game against the Knights. So, after no free to air coverage in the first 11 weeks of the NRL competition, the Raiders should be gracing our screens for the remaining two thirds of the year??.should be.