Round 8: Warriors v Raiders preview
Desperation mounts as teams look to bounce back
It will be the Warriors playing the Raiders this Saturday afternoon in Redcliffe. Both teams are looking to get a valuable two points on the board after devastating losses last weekend which saw both of these teams combined concede an astounding 106 points.
Even more concerning, both sides put in valiant first half efforts, only to completely capitulate in the second half against arguably the competitions two best teams. The Warriors were up against Melbourne in their traditional ANZAC Day clash, with the Raiders playing Penrith.
The Warriors' last win was in round 5 against the Cowboys and they will be hoping to right the wrongs of last week's embarrassing 70-10 defeat at the hands of the Storm. The men from the nation's capital on the other hand haven't won since round 3 and are languishing in 15th spot on the ladder, only ahead of the Bulldogs. With plenty to play for on each side of the ball on Saturday, this game has the potential to shape their season.
In team news, Warriors coach Nathan Brown has made a number of changes to his side from last week. Rocco Berry comes in on the wing for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Edward Kosi had a night to forget on ANZAC Day which has seen Brown react by pushing him to the reserves, with Villiami Vailea being his replacement. Bayley Sironen replaces an injured Josh Curran, who will be a huge loss to this side given his form so far this season. Eliesa Katoa makes his return via the bench. Jack Murchie also comes onto the interchange to face his former club.
Ricky Stuart on the other hand, has just made some minor adjustments to his side. The captain Elliott Whitehead returns in a major boost to the team, which sees Corey Harawira-Naera move to the bench. Ryan Sutton starts at lock which will also see Adam Elliott shift back to the bench. Harry Rushton is the man to drop back to the reserves.
Who to watch: The barnstorming Addin Fonua-Blake has been terrorising opposition this year with his strong hit-ups. The front-rower has cemented himself as the leader of this Warriors pack and has earnt himself the club captaincy. His inconsistency is seemingly a thing of the past and after a dreadful week for the club following their recent drubbing, Fonua-Blake will need to rally his troops to follow his example. Especially after the loss of Josh Curran this week, a lot of responsibility will rest on Fonua-Blake's shoulders.
Tom Starling is one of the most quick-footed hookers in the competition, and after the Warriors showed signs of some pretty flimsy defence in their last game, look for Starling to be sniffing around the middle for opportunities to dart from dummy-half. If Starling plays near his best football in this match-up, it could be another long day at the office for the Warriors.
The favourite: The Raiders are slight favourites to win this one, but the bookies can barely separate the two sides.
My tip: Coming into this game, I would have thought that the Warriors were good value to win this one. But, at the same time, there have been a vast number of team changes this week that almost seem like a knee-jerk reaction from the coach. This is especially given that the team was named the day after they played Melbourne. The loss of Josh Curran is huge too, but then again, their spine for the majority of the season has remained in-tact for this week which should give them some level of stability. It's just the Raiders' team stability that stands out to me despite the fact that they lost last week. It shows that the coach has faith in his players to get the job done. At the same time though, the Raiders will be heading up from an increasingly colder Canberra into the warmer Redcliffe weather. Could that have a bearing on this contest? This one's a real toss of the coin and it seems at the moment whenever you tip them, it backfires. The Raiders, you would have to think though, should be a little more desperate for the win. Raiders by 8.