Can Canberra keep the defending premiers winless to start the 2017 season?
The Sharks were beaten at home last week by the Broncos and now face a Raiders side that will be intent on not falling into a 0-2 hole themselves.
Canberra were brave in defeat when going down in Golden Point to the Cowboys in Townsville while the Sharks kept hanging on but were never in the hunt in losing 26-18 to the Broncos.
BEST OF A BEATEN BUNCH
CANBERRA were no doubt the standouts from our perspective when it came to assessing the beaten teams from the opening round.
Forced to pull off 44 tackles inside their own 20 metre line and having only 42 percent possession, the Raiders did well to repel Johnathan Thurston and co but a bizarre set of circumstances, along with a touch of luck, played against them.
They were clearly outpointed in run metres too, by 468 metres to be exact, but their defence was still good enough to keep them in the contest. If they don’t get into penalty trouble then the Sharks could find it difficult to put points on them.
CRONULLA showed signs of a premiership hangover last week.
Showing signs of sloppiness including giving away 10 penalties which ultimately led to most, if not all, of the Broncos 26 points, Cronulla will need to sharpen up here.
Their run metres (1411) were well off the Broncos while their task was made more difficult after missing 44 tackles.
Sharkies fans will be buoyed by the fact they have got the better of the Raiders in five of their past eight encounters including three of the past four.
While Canberra’s home record during the regular season in 2016 stood at 10-2, one of those losses came against Cronulla while in the semi they boys from the Shire again left with a win despite playing on the road.
Funnily enough the home team in this fixture has a terrible record for some reason. Canberra has dropped four straight at home against Cronulla while the Sharks haven’t beaten the Raiders in the Shire for the past three games.
All things being equal we think the Raiders will get off the mark in 2017.
It appears as though Ricky Stuart’s side hasn’t dropped off the side that reached the Preliminary Final last season and although beaten last week, the effort would have given them a great deal of confidence heading into this. It must be noted they are still without captain Jarrod Croker.
Cronulla definitely looked as though they were missing Ben Barba, Michael Ennis and Valentine Holmes last week but the latter could be a last minute inclusion depending on how he has pulled up from his hamstring strain.
Although there is anomaly of losing to the Sharks in Canberra of recent times, the Raiders look a better team overall at this point of the season and we think they are worth a few bob here.
MATCH WINNER TIP: CANBERRA
FIRST TRYSCORER: JORDAN RAPANA – he has five tries in five matches against the Sharks
MARGIN BETTING: CANBERRA 1-12
Other tip: TOTAL POINTS OVER 41.5 – the average total points in their last seven clashes is near the 45 mark