Round 2 Preview: Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights


Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights
Sunday 18th March
GIO Stadium
6:30pm (NSW), 5:30pm (QLD), 8:30pm (NZ)

 Raiders:  
1. Jack Wighton
2. Nick Cotric
3. Jarrod Croker (c)
4. Joseph Leilua
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Blake Austin
7. Sam Williams
8. Iosia Soliola
9. Siliva Havili
10. Shannon Boyd
11. Joshua Papalii
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Luke Bateman

Interchange: 14. Aidan Sezer, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Charlie Gubb

Reserves: 18. Craig Garvey, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Jack Murchie

Knights:
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
3. Sione Mata’utia
4. Tautau Moga
5. Nathan Ross
6. Connor Watson
7. Mitchell Pearce (c)
8. Herman Ese’ese
9. Slade Griffin
10. Jacob Lillyman
11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
12. Aidan Guerra
13. Mitch Barnett

Interchange: 14. Brock Lamb, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer (c), 17. Daniel Saifiti

Reserves: 18. Ken Sio, 19. Jacob Saifiti, 20. Daniel Levi, 21. Luke Yates

Game Preview:

Both teams played in close matches that could have gone either way. The Raiders fell just short in Round 1 against the Titans giving up a try at the death of the game, and the Knights took Manly to Golden Point in which the Knights came out as the winners.

Both teams will look to build on solid performances in Round 1, But it's just too close to tip. The Raiders are usually very solid at home, and in front of what is expected to be a strong crowd look to have the Raiders come out firing throwing everything they have at the Visitors. The Knights however have a new look team with all the new pieces coming into play early, so look to see young sensation Kalyn Ponga continue to form his combination with Mitchell Pearce.

Key Match-ups: Kalyn Ponga vs Jack Wighton

Kalyn Ponga in the very limited games he has played in First Grade is yet to disappoint. His Round 1 started of incredibly strong getting the Knights the first try of the season. His step is dangerous and if the defence is caught napping look to see Ponga run the ball trying to cause an opening for either himself or for a teammate to slip straight into.  

Jack Wighton is a solid defender and usually finds himself in the right place at the right time normally cutting short whatever sort of attack the opposition is mounting. Not only his defence but when Wighton runs the ball he is damaging, so look to see him touch the ball quite often as he tries to break the line.

Battle of the Halves
The Knights have a brand new halves combination however both Mitchell Pearce and Connor Watson aren't strangers when it comes to playing together. The two formed quite a pairing at the Roosters with Connor Watson usually coming off the bench in the Utility role, However Round 1 showed that these two players will be something to watch moving forward this season.

The Raiders have stuck with the same pairing of Blake Austin and Sam Williams this week with Aidan Sezer starting on the bench again, however they are all well fimiliar with one another and how they play. So look to see Austin take the line on trying to create space with Sam Williams hanging around at first reciver leading the plays around the field.

Prediction:
This is a hard game to tip. The Raiders are always solid at home, but have a tendency to get complacent in defence. I believe the Knights will make it count with the chances they will receive and look to pile on points. I think this will be a high scoring game however I believe the visitors will get the win in the end. Knights by 8 points.

- Fewy

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