Raiders v Bulldogs preview

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Canberra Raiders v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Thursday 7:50pm at GIO Stadium Canberra

Season Launchpad or Mad Monday Planning?

24th September 2016: the Canberra Raiders fall by 2 points to the Melbourne Storm.

2016 proved to be a false dawn for long suffering Raiders fans, last year saw them finish 10th and 2018 has so far seen them start with 0 wins and 4 losses. After last weekend's loss, coach Ricky Stuart put the challenge to his players on a very personal level.

On the other side we have the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, last year arguably one of the dullest sides ever to lace boots in the NRL. This year - whilst their football is easier on the eye, the results aren't an awful lot better.

It is only round 5 but this is already looming as a do or die clash for one if not both of these sides.

Stuart has made a statement at the selection table with Josh Papalii among the casualties from Saturday's loss to Manly, and for the second straight week Blake Austin will lace up for Mounties in the Intrust Super Premiership. Jack Wighton plays despite some off-field distraction. Canterbury coach Dean Pay meanwhile has only made a forced change with Aiden Tolman out through injury, replaced at lock by Adam Elliott. Kerrod Holland is named on the bench but is expected to make way for one of the reserves.

Last meeting: Round 9 2017 - Bulldogs 16 Raiders 10

Who to watch: Last week I was looking for a Moses to lead his people in my preview of the Tigers-Eels clash, this week I am again looking at a Moses to lead his people. Moses Mbye has been born again since his move to fullback, he is starting to play what's in front of him and has broken free of the shackles that saw him and his halves partners crucified in the media last year. I am looking forward to seeing his attacking decision making improve because once that catches up to his feet then he will be a force to be reckoned with!

In times of crisis you turn to your leaders to get you out of trouble, on the back of four losses Canberra have the added distraction of having Wighton involved in a night club incident. Looking across the Canberra rosters I don't see an awful lot of leaders, Jarrod Croker whilst a marvellous player in his own right is not a leader of men. The man I am expecting to stand up this week if Canberra are to show any fight for the rest of the season is Aiden Sezer, both defensively and offensively Canberra have been poor with much of this coming from the halves, watch for Sezer to have a big game this week.

The favourite: The Raiders have the better backing but the Dogs are well supported. Tough pick this one.

My tip: My tip this week is a little bit open ended, if we are expecting Canberra to turn the corner this season then they will win, whether by a single point or 50 they'll find a way to drag themselves across the line, if we're happy to put a red line through Canberra then they will roll over and expose their soft underbelly and once again find a means to capitulate. Canberra by 4

2. Nick Cotric 19. Michael Oldfield 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Sam Williams 8. Iosia Soliola 9. Siliva Havili 10. Junior Paulo 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Luke Bateman 14. Ata Hingano 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Dunamis Lui 17. Liam Knight

1. Moses Mbye 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. William Hopoate 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Jeremy Marshall-King 7. Kieran Foran 8. Aaron Woods 9. Michael Lichaa 10. David Klemmer 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliot 15. Danny Fualalo 17. Kerrod Holland 18. Greg Eastwood 19. Asipeli Fine

Referees: Grant Atkins, Alan Shortall; Sideline Officials: Jeff Younis, Jon Stone; Video Referees: Ashley Klein, Luke Patten;

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