Blake Ayshford on the attack for the Warriors. Canberra Raiders v Vodafone New Zealand Warriors. NRL Rugby League

CANBERRA RAIDERS v VODAFONE WARRIORS

GIO Stadium, Canberra

Saturday, 5.30pm AEST, 7.30pm NZT

Both the Canberra Raiders and Vodafone Warriors head into round seven seeking a third straight NRL victory with the pair currently part of a mid-table jam of six teams sitting on six competition points.

Canberra was in fine touch in last Saturday's 42-16 defeat of the Gold Coast Titans, running in eight tries to record its third, and easily most impressive, victory of the year.

The Vodafone Warriors head to GIO Stadium off the back of a solid showing which saw them down Parramatta 22-10, with the Kiwi franchise holding an opponent to fewer than 22 points for the first time this season.

Both sides have the rare luxury of being able to maintain their same 17 from last week and, given the form their respective teams are enjoying right now, it's little surprise coaches Ricky Stuart and Stephen Kearney haven't felt the need to make any changes. 

It will be a special day for Blake Ayshford on Saturday as he celebrates both his 29th birthday and 150th NRL career appearance.

 

MOST RECENT CLASH

Round 20 at GIO Stadium last year when the Raiders were seemingly cruising to victory leading 22-4 with 12 minutes to go when the Vodafone Warriors unleashed one of their more remarkable comebacks. Thomas Leuluai scored two tries in quick succession, both converted by Issac Luke, and it was 16-22 with seven minutes to play. They couldn't find another try until the unthinkable happened in the dying moments of the contest. On the last tackle of the final set of the game, Shaun Johnson teased the defence and put David Fusitu'a over millimetres inside the touchline. It was over to Luke, who nailed the conversion brilliantly to make it 22-22 to herald golden point extra time only for the Raiders to snare success with a Jarrod Croker try. A stunning match. 

 

WHY THE RAIDERS CAN WIN

No team has scored more than Canberra's 29 tries so far this year and across the opening six rounds they have averaged 27 points scored per match. Add to that the fact that the Raiders possess one of the NRL's best attacking weapons right now in Jordan Rapana, who leads the competition in tries scored, line breaks made and sits second for tackles broken, and it's not hard to understand why they are so dangerous with the ball.

 

WHY THE VODAFONE WARRIORS CAN WIN

Over the past fortnight the Vodafone Warriors simply haven't given their opposition enough ball to win the game, with consecutive completion rates of 86 and 82 per cent which saw them own well over half of the total possession count on each occasion. Across the season so far the Warriors have been one of the best in terms of ball control, with their average completion rate of 77.88 per cent ranking them fourth in the NRL. If they can achieve those types of numbers this weekend they could quickly frustrate the Raiders into making unforced errors.

 

HISTORY

Played 36; Raiders 19; Warriors 17.

The Raiders have an excellent record against the Vodafone Warriors at GIO Stadium, having won 11 of their 14 meetings at the venue. Canberra has had the better of the recent clashes as well, with wins in their last two games against the Vodafone Warriors, but prior to that the Kiwi side had enjoyed a five-match winning streak over the Green Machine.

 

TEAMS

Canberra Raiders: Jack Wighton; Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker (c), Joseph Leilua, Jordan Rapana; Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer; Junior Paulo, Josh Hodgson, Shannon Boyd; Josh Papalii, Elliott Whitehead; Joe Tapine. Interchange: Adam Clydsdale, Luke Bateman, Clay Priest, Sia Soliola, Dunamis Lui, Jordan Turner, Makahesi Makatoa, Lachlan Croker. Head coach: Ricky Stuart.

Vodafone Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c); Blake Ayshford, David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; James Gavet, Issac Luke, Jacob Lillyman; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Nataniel Roache, Charlie Gubb, Ligi Sao, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa, Mafoa'aeata Hingano, Mason Lino. Head coach: Stephen Kearney.

 

OFFICIALS

Referee: Adam Gee. Assistant referee: Gavin Reynolds. Sideline officials: Jeff Younis and Phil Henderson. Review official: Ben Galea. Senior review official: Jared Maxwell.

 

ODDS

TAB (NZ) | Head to head: Canberra $1.33, Vodafone Warriors $3.10.

All odds: CLICK HERE 

 

TV COVERAGE

SKY Sport - Coverage begins at 7.00pm (NZT).

Fox Sports – Live coverage from 5.30pm (AEST).

 

  • This article first appeared on nrl.com