MATCH UP STATS
Round 4 resultCanberra Raiders: Raiders 14 defeated by Sea Eagles 32Canterbury Bulldogs: Bulldogs 16 defeated by Rabbitohs 20
7.50pm Thursday April 5, 2018, at GIO Stadium
IT is only round five of the 2018 NRL season but both the Canberra Raiders and the Canterbury Bulldogs are looking at early trips to Bali this September.
The Raiders have been a shadow of the team that looked destined for a top four berth this time last year, losing their opening four games of the season. The poor start to 2018 saw Canberra coach Ricky Stuart label his players as “soft” in a move to motivate his chargers.
A loss on Thursday night would see the Green Machine equal its worst start to a season in 36 years. The inaugural season in 1982 is the only time they’ve ever lost the opening five rounds.
The Bulldogs are fresh off a disappointing loss to Souths but they will be buoyed by the great showing of the Morris boys, Brett and Josh.
Canterbury is only two games removed from a terrific 20-18 win over the Panthers in round three, so we know their best is good enough, whether they can find the consistency to be competitive is another question.
Players to watch – Raiders v Bulldogs
Raiders – Jarrod Croker: Canberra captain Jarrod Croker will be fired up to prove the coach wrong after Stuart branded him and his teammates as soft. The 27-year-old will lead from the front on Thursday night and we’re expecting a much stronger performance from the 2016 Dally M Captain of the Year.
Bulldogs – Moses Mbye: After being cleared of a broken jaw following a sickening head clash, Moses Mbye will line up for the Bulldogs on Thursday night. The playmaker scored a double in their win against the Panthers in round three, and the Dogs were robbed of his play for the majority of last week. Expect Mbye to be a key player on Thursday night.
Predicted Raiders team
1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aiden Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Josh Papalii, 17 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead
Interchange: 13 Luke Bateman, 14 Ata Hingano, 15 Junior Paulo, 16 Dunamis Lui
Predicted Bulldogs team
1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Jeremy Marshall-King, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Joshua Jackson (c), 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Aiden Tolman
Interchange: 14 Adam Elliott, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Francis Tualalo, 17 Fa’amanu Brown
Raiders v Bulldogs – who wins?
We’re predicting more pain for the home side.
The Raiders have struggled against poor performing sides this week and they are fresh off a smashing at the hands of Manly in round four. It doesn’t bode well for an atoning game on Thursday.
The Dogs have been great over the last two weeks and had it not been for Moses Mbye going down in the opening five minutes they could be hunting a hat-trick here. Mbye should be ready to go on Thursday night after being cleared of serious injury.
The Bulldogs should win this one, condemning the Raiders to their worst-ever start to the season since the club’s inception.
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