Media Previews V Raiders...

CANBERRA v WESTS TIGERS: courtesy Andrew Johns…http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/joeys-verdict-for-round-20/story-e6frext9-1225752868995
Raiders:
Two defeats in a row to the Knights and the Panthers have severely jolted their play-off aspirations but they are capable of producing something special, particularly at home. The test will be how strong their desire is to turn it around.

Tigers:
Would have been breathing a sigh of relief when Robbie Farah escaped suspension. Their win over the Cowboys will have coach Sheens’ men primed for a big effort in the national capital to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Verdict:
One of the toughest games of the weekend to predict. Tigers have more to play for so I’ll go with them.

Raiders v Wests Tigers
Canberra Stadium
Sunday 2pm

Splutter, spurt, clunk… the Green Machine is barely operational. Meow… the Wests Tigers are far from roaring.

But if we are to believe 30 competition points is the magic number for finals football… well, this match becomes a grand final for these two combatants.

The Raiders, currently 14th on the ladder, need to win all seven of their remaining games to reach the magic 30 points after a last-start loss to Penrith.

While they might be confident they can dispose of the Tigers this round and the Broncos next week while they play at home, the following two games against the Bulldogs and Dragons might just be a bridge too far.

Nevertheless they won’t be looking any further ahead than Sunday afternoon against the Wests Tigers, who did well to dispose of the Cowboys last weekend.

The Tigers, currently in 11th, two wins behind eighth place, need to win six of the last seven to get to 30 points. They have a reasonable chance considering their next five games including this one are against four sides outside the top eight.

But just like the Raiders, the Tigers cannot afford to think too far ahead… they must win this clash to keep the dream alive.

The home-side Raiders have named Glen Buttriss to start at hooker, which sees Nigel Plum move back to the bench and Alan Tongue start at lock.

Origin star Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is out with Glen Turner coming into the starting side in the forwards, while Trevor Thurling and Joe Picker have been added to the bench.

For the Wests Tigers, coach Tim Sheens has stuck solid with the side that disposed of the Cowboys, with the only change being the addition of Dean Collis as an 18th man.

Watch out Raiders: The Wests Tigers have been pretty deadly at scoring tries from kicks and there is no reason to suggest they won’t employ the tactic here. The side has scored 15 tries from the boot so far this season with only Brisbane, Penrith and Souths scoring more.

The Raiders have conceded 15 tries to the boot, which has them ranked 13th, so it makes sense the black, gold and whites will stick the boot in. Canberra’s major weakness is the bomb; they are ranked equal second last at defusing the high kicks.

Watch out Wests Tigers: Daytime football in Canberra equals popped passes and great offloads. The Raiders love playing in the sunshine as it means they can promote second-phase football much more often.

Already they have punched out 246 offloads for the season to be ranked behind only Parramatta while the Wests Tigers are ranked way down in 11th when it comes to this particular skill with just 170 for the season.

If the Tigers cannot find a way to wrap up the football they will be facing an avalanche of breaks and potentially an avalanche of points.

Where it will be won: This game is shaping as an all-out attacking assault considering it is daytime football and both sides are certainly skill-centric.

We could easily say defence is the key factor but reality is neither side is much good at it so maybe the better ploy is to just come out firing and try to score 40 points and restrict the opposition to 38. This means the game will come down to who takes the chances when they come. The side who can convert their breaks into points and minimises errors will be victorious.

So far this season the Wests Tigers have made 89 line breaks (3rd in the NRL) while the Raiders have 72 for the year to be ranked equal 12th. The Raiders have turned just 16 of those line breaks directly into tries, which equates to just over 22 per cent conversion rate. But the Wests Tigers have turned 24 of their line breaks directly into tries for a strike rate of just under 27 per cent.

The Raiders need to watch Robbie Farah in particular as the Tigers have 12 line breaks from dummy-half, the most of any side in the NRL.

The history: Played 17; Raiders 9, Wests Tigers 8. The Wests Tigers kick-started their 2009 season with a 34-26 win over the Raiders but the Canberra boys have won three of the past five clashes between the clubs. At Canberra Stadium the Raiders have won six of nine matches.

Conclusion: Mathematically the Raiders can still make the finals but you get the feeling it’s beyond gone for them. The Tigers though, thanks to their draw in the next few weeks, do have an opportunity to do something special and as such they should be more than hungry to win here.

The Raiders are tough to beat at home, especially in the daytime, and will be a tough prospect but if the 2005 premiers are serious they should get the result.

But please don’t bet your house on it as the Raiders are full of pride and while there is life, there is hope. The loss of Learoyd-Lahrs is big though. The Tigers… just.

Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Phil Haines; Sideline Officials – Steve Carrall & Mohamad Fajajo; Video Ref – Phil Cooley.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm.

  • Statistics: NRL Stats.

Sportal Preview:

Preview: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Scott Brooks, Sportal

VENUE & TIME: Canberra Stadium, Sunday July 26, 2:00pm (AEST).
COVERAGE: Fox Sports 2
LAST TIME: Tigers 34 - Raiders 26 at Campbelltown Stadium, Round 1, 2009.

WALKING WOUNDED: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs limped from the field with a knee injury for the Raiders last weekend and will miss this clash as a result. He joins David Shillington (ribs) and Justin Carney (leg) on the sidelines.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens has named an unchanged line-up for this week with Cronulla-bound centre Dean Collis returning from a broken arm as 18th man. Chris Heighington (leg), Dean Halatau (knee) and Keith Galloway (knee) are all due back within the next month.

FORM: The Raiders copped some rough decisions last Saturday night at the foot of the mountains, but that shouldn’t disguise the fact their overall performance was poor considering their finals’ hopes were on the line. The Green Machine have now slipped to 14th spot on the ladder and six points shy of eighth spot with a poor points differential. Season over.
The Tigers are still in the finals hunt following their convincing 34-14 defeat of the Cowboys in front of over 18,000 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday. They have scored a combined total of 88 points in their last two matches against teams above them on the ladder.

WHO’S HOT: The best and worst of Benji Marshall was on display during Wests Tigers’ match against Cowboys last week. Marshall took the ball from a scrum win 20m out and weaved and dummied across field before slicing through and crossing in the corner. The Raiders were well beaten by the Panthers last week but Terry Campese, Daniel Vidot and Jarrod Croker gave their supporters some joy by scoring some second-half tries

WE THINK: This game is a real toss of the coin considering both sides have a major problem with consistency. But the Tigers have stepped up a level over the past few weeks and some of their key players are finding their best form of the season, most notably five-eighth Benji Marshall. The Raiders may be at home, however their attack has failed to click all season and they are missing some key big men up front. Tigers by 12.

Laurie Daley’s Preview:

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (EST)

Two of the NRL’s most inconsistent teams will both view this contest as a game they should win if they are to be taken seriously. The Tigers, particularly, will fancy themselves for a late-season charge if they can get the points in what is always a tough road fixture at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders were far below their best in their loss to Penrith on Saturday night, but a return to the capital usually brings an extra gear to their game. Without captain Alan Tongue and New South Wales forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the home side will need their often-errant five-eighth, Terry Campese, to assert more control on the game. His kicking game in general play will be of particular importance in the battle for field position, as the Tigers have three strong options in Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and John Morris. The Tigers haven’t won three in a row all year, and they won’t get a batter chance to achieve that this season.

Laurie Daley says: I’m going for the Raiders given that they have home-ground advantage. You don’t know what to expect from the Raiders - one day they are brilliant - the next day they are poor. The last couple of weeks they have been poor but back playing at home they are a better team. If they get out of the block and put some points on then they could be in for a good afternoon - especially considering the Tigers have had their issues defensively. In cold conditions I think the Raiders can prevail.

@willow:

Laurie Daley’s Preview:

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (EST)

Two of the NRL’s most inconsistent teams will both view this contest as a game they should win if they are to be taken seriously. The Tigers, particularly, will fancy themselves for a late-season charge if they can get the points in what is always a tough road fixture at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders were far below their best in their loss to Penrith on Saturday night, but a return to the capital usually brings an extra gear to their game. Without captain Alan Tongue and New South Wales forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the home side will need their often-errant five-eighth, Terry Campese, to assert more control on the game. His kicking game in general play will be of particular importance in the battle for field position, as the Tigers have three strong options in Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and John Morris. The Tigers haven’t won three in a row all year, and they won’t get a batter chance to achieve that this season.

Laurie Daley says: I’m going for the Raiders given that they have home-ground advantage. You don’t know what to expect from the Raiders - one day they are brilliant - the next day they are poor. The last couple of weeks they have been poor but back playing at home they are a better team. If they get out of the block and put some points on then they could be in for a good afternoon - especially considering the Tigers have had their issues defensively. In cold conditions I think the Raiders can prevail.

I think our defence has been pretty good of late, Laurie you dont know what you are on about!

Its not just Laurie, the other preview also discusses our liabilty in defence. just admit, we dont have the best defense. hence our position on the ladder. 😕

Our defense had definitely improved during the season. We are ranked 11th now after being the worst defenders for the first few rounds.

Our points conceded per game is now 21.6 (better than in any previous season for the Wests Tigers). It has been 13 games since we had a team score more than 26 against us. Our average over those 13 games is 17.9. If we had managed to keep that average over all 17 games so far this season, we would have conceded 304 points. There are only 3 teams (Dragons, Storm and Bulldogs) who have done better than this.

I think it is time we realise that our defence is not that bad!!

As an aside, heres a little trivia for you:

Our previous best string of games keeping teams to 26 or less was 11 games, from round 26 of 2006 to round 11 of 2007.
Our best effort over 13 games was 15.5 per game (between round 15 of 2005 and round 1 of 2006, including our finals run, of course)
Our worst effort over 13 games was 34.2 per game 😮 (between round 6 and round 18 of 2001)

Interesting Stats those.They make pretty good reading.Not since the first 5 rounds have we really had any massive issues.In saying that though we are still prone to a soft try on the goaline.

Do you reckon it has anything to do with us getting rid of our defence coach? 😉

@willow:

Laurie Daley’s Preview:

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (EST)

Two of the NRL’s most inconsistent teams will both view this contest as a game they should win if they are to be taken seriously. The Tigers, particularly, will fancy themselves for a late-season charge if they can get the points in what is always a tough road fixture at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders were far below their best in their loss to Penrith on Saturday night, but a return to the capital usually brings an extra gear to their game. Without captain Alan Tongue and New South Wales forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the home side will need their often-errant five-eighth, Terry Campese, to assert more control on the game. His kicking game in general play will be of particular importance in the battle for field position, as the Tigers have three strong options in Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and John Morris. The Tigers haven’t won three in a row all year, and they won’t get a batter chance to achieve that this season.

Laurie Daley says: I’m going for the Raiders given that they have home-ground advantage. You don’t know what to expect from the Raiders - one day they are brilliant - the next day they are poor. The last couple of weeks they have been poor but back playing at home they are a better team. If they get out of the block and put some points on then they could be in for a good afternoon - especially considering the Tigers have had their issues defensively. In cold conditions I think the Raiders can prevail.

What a terrible preview… it hardly even mentions the Tigers!

@willow:

Laurie Daley’s Preview:

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (EST)

Two of the NRL’s most inconsistent teams will both view this contest as a game they should win if they are to be taken seriously. The Tigers, particularly, will fancy themselves for a late-season charge if they can get the points in what is always a tough road fixture at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders were far below their best in their loss to Penrith on Saturday night, but a return to the capital usually brings an extra gear to their game. Without captain Alan Tongue and New South Wales forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the home side will need their often-errant five-eighth, Terry Campese, to assert more control on the game. His kicking game in general play will be of particular importance in the battle for field position, as the Tigers have three strong options in Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and John Morris. The Tigers haven’t won three in a row all year, and they won’t get a batter chance to achieve that this season.

Laurie Daley says: I’m going for the Raiders given that they have home-ground advantage. You don’t know what to expect from the Raiders - one day they are brilliant - the next day they are poor. The last couple of weeks they have been poor but back playing at home they are a better team. If they get out of the block and put some points on then they could be in for a good afternoon - especially considering the Tigers have had their issues defensively. In cold conditions I think the Raiders can prevail.

Gee what a surprise - Daley tips the Raiders. Seeing as though he seems to hate us and is a former Raider he might as well not have bothered. The guy is a total goose.

@Yossarian:

@willow:

Laurie Daley’s Preview:

Canberra v Wests Tigers, Canberra Stadium, Sunday, 2pm (EST)

Two of the NRL’s most inconsistent teams will both view this contest as a game they should win if they are to be taken seriously. The Tigers, particularly, will fancy themselves for a late-season charge if they can get the points in what is always a tough road fixture at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders were far below their best in their loss to Penrith on Saturday night, but a return to the capital usually brings an extra gear to their game. Without captain Alan Tongue and New South Wales forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, the home side will need their often-errant five-eighth, Terry Campese, to assert more control on the game. His kicking game in general play will be of particular importance in the battle for field position, as the Tigers have three strong options in Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall and John Morris. The Tigers haven’t won three in a row all year, and they won’t get a batter chance to achieve that this season.

Laurie Daley says: I’m going for the Raiders given that they have home-ground advantage. You don’t know what to expect from the Raiders - one day they are brilliant - the next day they are poor. The last couple of weeks they have been poor but back playing at home they are a better team. If they get out of the block and put some points on then they could be in for a good afternoon - especially considering the Tigers have had their issues defensively. In cold conditions I think the Raiders can prevail.

Gee what a surprise - Daley tips the Raiders. Seeing as though he seems to hate us and is a former Raider he might as well not have bothered. The guy is a total goose.

Agree 110% the man is a joke can not stand him!

main thing from the reviews is that both teams are in-consistent.
of course laurie Daley is going to favour Canberra.
it would be nice for wests-tigers to win on sunday and make it three in a row, and achieve at least that for the season.

From the SMH:

Canberra v Wests Tigers
Greg Prichard | July 24, 2009

Sunday, Canberra Stadium, 2pm
Referees: Tony Archer, Phil Haines
Head to Head: Raiders 9, Tigers 8
Last clash: Tigers 34 bt Raiders 26 at Campbelltown Stadium (Rd 1, 2009)
TAB Sportsbet: Raiders $1.65, Tigers $2.20
Centrebet: Raiders $1.63, Tigers $2.28

The 11th-placed Tigers have got a slight chance of making the finals, but the 14th-placed Raiders, who are two points behind them, can forget about it. The Raiders haven’t been able to get on a decent run all season. Three times they have won two in a row, but each time they have followed it up with multiple losses. But each of their two-game winning streaks have started at home, which augurs well for them in this game. The Raiders have been on the road for two weeks in a row, losing to the Knights and the Panthers, so they will really appreciate playing at home again. They have a win-loss record of 4-4 at home this season, and have won three of their last four home games. The Tigers have generally found it tough on the road, but although they only have a 2-6 record overall in away games those two wins have come in their last four trips.

The Tigers have been quite competitive in Canberra in recent years, winning on two of their last four visits, and they make this trip coming off the back of wins over the Rabbitohs (54-20) and the Cowboys (34-14). The Tigers need to keep winning if they are to be any chance of making the finals, so they can be expected to give it all they have got in Canberra. The question is whether the Raiders can pump themselves now that their season is effectively over, or whether they will be a bit off the pace as a result.

The Raiders are missing several key forwards - David Shillington, Scott Logan and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs - due to injury, and that has got to hurt. The Tigers are still without injured forwards Chris Heighington and Keith Galloway. Canberra are favourites, but only slightly. The Tigers are right in this.

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