Wests Tigers v Raiders preview

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Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders Sunday 4:05pm at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Leumeah / Dharawal

Tigers keen to shrug off Campbelltown hoodoo against Raiders.

It's not a happy hunting ground for the Wests Tigers, but they will be looking to secure a back-to-back victory in Campbelltown Sports Stadium against the Canberra Raiders.

It's been a long year for the Wests Tigers, and they will be hoping they can keep some momentum going from Round 15, which was the first win since Round 4. The 18-10 win against the Gold Coast Titans showed that if the team kept up completions and didn't fumble the ball, they could keep in the game. Solid performances from veteran and star players Aidan Sezer and Api Koroisau were complemented by strong performances from Stefano Utoukamanu, Justin Olam, and Alex Seyfarth, which would give the team confidence that when they click, they can compete. 

The team will have Lachlan Galvin return to five-eighth from a hand injury, allowing Koroisau to return to hooker and Sezer to halfback. 

The Raiders performance this year is lopsided, and although they are scraping thigh with some tight wins, their losses are blowouts. A clearly frustrated Ricky Stuart said it was a game of ill-discipline that saw them crumble against the Cowboys 34-16; it was the Raiders' third straight loss at home.

After coming off with a HIA last round, Tom Starling will sit this round out, allowing Zac Woolford to take a spot on the bench.

Last meeting: Round 2 2024 - Raiders 32 Wests Tigers 12

Who to watch: With Koroisau back in the front row, watch for a spirited performance from Utoikamanu and Founa Pole. Both front rowers got involved last round, and with Api at the helm up front, let's hope they've turned a corner and will back up their performance. Alex Seyfarth is as fiery as they come, and his energy off the bench is noticeable in attack and defence. He is the mongrel the Wests need off the bench, and if they are completing sets, he will add to the momentum. With the media storm around young Lachlan Galvin simmering down, it may be a chance for the young player to shut down all the hype about moving and show the NRL his energy is focused on winning for his team. Watch for him to reignite a combo with Jahream Bula, whose pace into the gap could be too much for the Canberra forward pack. Api Koroisau proved he was a club man by jumping into the halfback position last week; he showed that his club came first before any idea of Origin selection. A classy move by a classy layer; let's hope this is starting to rub off onto the rest of the team.

Jordan Rapana always enjoys scoring tries against Wests Tigers, racking up 16 tries in 14 matches against them.  He will be keen to be the number 1 fullback out there on game day, so watch for him to get involved. Ethan Strange has given the Raiders a good dose of energy, and his game has been consistent. A tough player to tackle, the Wests will have to make sure they secure him on those speedy runs out wide, opening up opportunities for his outside backs. But it's also his defence game that should draw attention, too, and he will be happy to mix it with any frame coming at him.  With Hudson Young being dropped from the Origin team, we should be safe in thinking he will take it personally, and I hope he does. A fiery young will be trouble for the West's outside backs, and let's see if he can get under the spinoff Seyfarth. With Savage having a quiet game last round, you can be sure Sticky would have been in his ear asking for a reply when he runs out this round. When he gets involved in the game, he is an exciting player who has the power to disrupt the line if he turns up.

Favourite: Raiders have beaten Wests in their last eight games, and The Tigers haven't seen a win at Campbelltown in 10 years, so Canberra is looking odds on favourite,

My tip: That being the case, there was something in the Wests' win last week; with all the off-field drama being pumped up by the media, the team shrugged it off and held their composure, even if it was against the next worst team in the league. But I feel, and you can call me crazy, that the Tigers are going to pull an upset here and will take it to an offbeat Raiders team. Tigers to claw themselves a win by a couple. Wests Tigers by 2.

1. Jahream Bula 2. Solomona Faataape 3. Brent Naden 20. Adam Doueihi 19. Luke Laulilii 6. Lachlan Galvin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Fonua Pole 11. Reuben Porter 12. Samuela Fainu 13. Justin Matamua 15. Sione Fainu 16. Alex Seyfarth 17. Kit Laulilii 18. Heath Mason 21. Tony Sukkar

1. Jordan Rapana 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Xavier Savage 6. Ethan Strange 7. Kaeo Weekes 8. Josh Papali'i 14. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Morgan Smithies 9. Danny Levi 15. Ata Mariota 16. Trey Mooney 17. Emre Guler 18. Albert Hopoate

Referees: Todd Smith; Sideline Officials: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Clayton Wills; Video Referees: Gerard Sutton;

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