Can the Viking clap help the Raiders ignite their season?
One of the pre-season favourites to win the premiership, Canberra are stuck on 14 points following three straight losses but a string of home games could be just what the doctor ordered.
The first of those games was last week against the Broncos but Canberra failed to capitalise on the fact Brisbane had a few players backing up from Origin and dropped a 30-20 result.
North Queensland began life without Johnathan Thurston with a thrilling 14-12 win over the in-form Panthers after a late try and sideline conversion sealed the deal for the home side.
The Viking clap became ‘a thing’ during Euro 2016 but the Raiders adopted it as their own last season on the way to getting through to the Preliminary Final.
Surprisingly playing at GIO Stadium hasn’t been as beneficial as it was last season with the Raiders coming into this match with a 4-3 record.
This shapes as a four-point game for the Raiders who enjoy the bye next week before further home games to the Dragons and Storm following that. It is absolutely vital for their finals aspirations that they claim at least two wins in the next three which will take them to 20 points by the end of Round 20.
Despite their struggles CANBERRA are still one of the best attacking teams in the competition and don’t have an issue scoring points in front of their fans. They are averaging 24.85 points per game at GIO which shows that points aren’t a problem - defence is.
The Cowboys will get their fair share of opportunity to score points if the effort by their forwards is anything to go by.
Led by Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess the Cowboys were able to get into the attacking zone of the Panthers last week but the execution once down there let them down until late.
That’s what happens when you lose a playmaker like Thurston but Michael Morgan and new halves partner Te Maire Martin will have to sort it out quickly if North Queensland are to maintain their spot in the top eight.
If the forwards can muscle up once again here against the Raiders’ big men then points could definitely be on offer.
NORTH QUEENSLAND has definitely had the better of this clash in recent times.
With four wins in the past six clashes the Cowboys will feel confident about their chances against the Raiders, however, just one of those wins was in the nation’s capital.
When looking at games just at GIO Stadium it is the Raiders who have the advantage with three wins in the past four.
We are keen on taking the Total Points Over 44.5 ($2.41 @ Sportsbet) as the average total between the sides in the past six games in Canberra is a touch under 45 points.
Canberra ($1.60 @ Unibet) hold sway with us going into the match.
We aren’t too keen to unload on them at the price considering their form but if they are going to click it has to be now. Ricky Stuart has called in the ‘Coal Train’ Dave Taylor who will add some serious size to the Raiders forward pack.
Although they have lost nine games this season, Canberra proves difficult to beat most of the time with seven of their nine losses being by 10 points or less, so if you fancy the upset for the visitors, the 1-12 winning margin ($3.90 @ Palmerbet) is definitely the way to go.
With no Thurston and a new halves pairing we aren’t too keen on the Cowboys just yet. For us, they are a ‘wait and see’ proposition and with this game being in the freezing cold of Canberra that will definitely play in favour of the home side rather than the visitors.
Looking for value? Have something on Jack Wighton to Score Anytime appeals as he has seven tries in seven matches against the Cowboys while Josh Papalii ($4.50 @ William Hill) also appeals as North Queensland concede the most tries through the middle of the field in the competition.
CANBERRA 1-12 WINNING MARGIN
JACK WIGHTON TO SCORE ANYTIME