Round 8: Raiders v Dragons preview
A return to the nation's capital awaits on Friday night with the Canberra Raiders looking to avenge last week's Golden Point defeat whilst the St George Illawarra Dragons will be looking to put in another improved performance.
The Canberra Raiders pushed competition leaders Parramatta all the way to golden point after having to come from behind late in the match. The Raiders were able to lead at half-time over the Eels before the Blue and Gold took a 24-12 which required the Raiders to score twice in the last five minutes. The Raiders did just that and forced golden point at 24-24.
Concerningly for the Raiders, that was their fourth straight defeat with just the one victory since the season's resumption which came against Melbourne in the first week back. The Raiders have struggled to score points after scoring just 54 points in the past four games with most of those coming last weekend against Parramatta.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has been forced into two changes with Corey Horsburgh ruled out for the season with a foot injury whilst Jordan Rapana is also out. Joseph Tapine returns to replace Horsburgh, whilst Bailey Simsonsson comes off the interchange bench into the starting line-up.
The St George Illawarra Dragons struggles through 2020 have been well publicised but last weekend they put in a much-improved performance up against an injury depleted Sydney Roosters side. The Dragons although beaten by 14 points were able to match the Roosters for most of the match.
The Dragons came into last weeks game off back to back victories over the Sharks and Titans with much improved performances and despite the defeat were boosted by pushing the Sydney Roosters. The confidence boosting performance will put them into good position in thinking that they could push a low on confidence Raiders side all the way on Friday night.
Paul McGregor has kept the faith with his Dragons side with no changes to the 17 that took the field last weekend at Bankwest Stadium.
Who to watch: Last weeks defeat came at a heavier cost for George Williams who suffered a broken nose last in the match against Parramatta. Williams made an impression for the Raiders against Melbourne and then has been up and down over recent weeks. The kicking game of Williams has been the most impressive facet of the Englishman's game which was shown last week by setting up the first of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's tries to get Canberra back in the game.
Dragons rookie Adam Clune has taken on the halfback role over the past 4 weeks and helped the fortunes of the Red ‘V' significantly since taking the 7 jersey. The Dragons have taken two victories in the four matches with Clune as well as defeats against the Bulldogs and Roosters. Clune's kicking game has been the most impressive part for the Dragons who have struggled to have a decent kicking game.
The favourite: The Canberra Raiders go into the game as heavy favourites with what looks to be a stronger squad as well as a fantastic home record at GIO Stadium
My tip: The Raiders performances haven't inspired a lot of confidence of late but their efforts against Parramatta will help them with a confidence boost. The Dragons have been good in the past few weeks but they still lack the quality to match the top teams as shown last weekend. That's why it's hard to tip them this weekend especially with the Raiders returning to Canberra. Raiders by 12.