The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Canberra Raiders this weekend at Pirtek Stadium, Saturday 9 April, in Round Six of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Ahead of the clash, we look at our Round Six opposition, the Canberra Raiders.
The Canberra Raiders (3 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw)
The Eels, currently ranked 8th on the ladder, go head to head with the in form third placed Canberra Raiders.
The Raiders enter the Round Six clash with three wins behind their back, after victories over the Penrith Panthers, Sydney Roosters and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs to go along a 24-24 draw against the Newcastle Knights.
The Raiders loss occurred in Round Four against the Gold Coast Titans.
The Raiders have scored 19 tries in their opening five rounds, with centre and captain Jarrod Crocker their highest point scorer of the season, with 4 tries and 20 goals.
Second rower Josh Papalii sits second on the Raiders’ try scoring list, with three four pointers from his five matches this season, whilst winger Edrick Lee and half Aidan Sezer have two tries of their own.
The Raiders forwards have been impressive this year, coming off a strong performance where they outmuscled a formidable Bulldogs pack. Front rowers Shannon Boyd and Frank Paul Nuuausala have proved a handful for their opposition, whilst lock Shaun Fensom has continued to prove a workhorse in defence.
“We are just focusing on Canberra. They were really impressive against the Bulldogs the other night, and they look like they will make a good run of it this year so we will have to be on our game and do everything we can to stop their go forward,” said Kieran Foran.
“It will be a good challenge up front against the Raiders forwards. They have started the season really well and have a good pack that is laying a good platform for them. They are playing some good footy so it will be a great challenges,” said Daniel Alvaro
“Good side, aren’t they? They’re a big pack, fast backs, great halves; it’ll be a really good competition.” Danny Wicks said.
The Raiders defence has lead 17 tries this season, an average of three tries per game.
The Raiders will be without forward Iosia Soliola who has been ruled out through injury, and will be a big loss for the away side after starting the year in strong form. Soliola has crossed for two tries this season, and does not stray away from defence, racking up 166 tackles this season (an average of 33 tackles per game).
The Parramatta Eels and Canberra Raiders have a fairly even head to head history, with the Raiders claiming 26 wins from 51 encounters. However, at Pirtek Stadium, the Eels have 13 wins from 21 games.
The last time these two sides met, the Raiders came away with the two points, claiming a 28-24 golden point victory in Round 26, 2015.
In that clash, it was hooker Josh Hodgson who broke the deadlock in extra time, crossing for a four pointer to secure the win.
The Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson has started the year in strong form, with three try assists and two crucial 40/20’s in key moments.
Playing off the back of a big forward pack, Hodgson will prove to be one of the main dangers this weekend as he looks to utilize his quick darts from dummy-half or his deft kicking game.
“We have a lot of respect for them. They have a big forward pack who roll forward, some pretty clever halves with speed to play off the back of that, so they are very dangerous,” Blue and Gold Assistant Coach Pete Gentle said of the Raiders.
“You can’t forget the nine either, Josh Hodgson. The forwards are really bringing him into the game and he is a very clever footballer.” Gentle added.
“Their whole pack is pretty dangerous. We just have to treat them all the same and keep an eye on their number nine too, Josh Hodgson, he is playing really well.” said Alvaro.