Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights Sunday, March 18, 6:30pm (AEDT) GIO Stadium, Canberra
The Raiders would have been hammered at training this week by Ricky Stuart after their capitulation against the Titans last week and will come out all guns blazing here. The Wolf has a feeling the Knights could come crashing back down to earth after their golden point win over the Sea Eagles. Playing in front of a packed McDonald Jones Stadium is one thing, but backing it up in Canberra will be much tougher. Joseph Tapine is out for the Raiders with a broken finger, with Luke Bateman moving into the starting side.
FormCanberra lost their season opener in typical Raiders fashion by blowing an 18-0 early lead and a 28-24 lead with 90 seconds to play, going down 30-28 to the Titans. They jumped 3.5-point road favourites. The total went well over the 44.5-point mark. Newcastle dug deep to win their first round clash with Manly 19-18 in golden point thanks to a Mitchell Pearce field goal. The Knights were impressive in a game that went under the total.
Key MatchupSam Williams v Mitchell Pearce: Sam Williams was one of the Raiders’ best in loss to the Titans and rightly holds his place in the No.7 jersey over Aiden Sezer. Williams had a hand in two of the Raiders tries in Week 1 and will be responsible for directing the Green Machine around the park here. He’s one of the most underrated players in the NRL and can hold keep Sezer in the hooker rotation with a good performance here. Rugby League can be a crazy game – just ask Mitchell Pearce! Unwanted by the Roosters, he has found a new home at the Knights and was the hero last week, kicking the match-winning field-goal in golden point. Consistency will be a big thing for Pearce and the Knights this season, and road trips don’t get much tougher than Canberra.
Stats That Matter– Canberra have won 26 of the 47 meetings played against Newcastle since 1988, including 19 of the 25 matches played in the nation’s capital. – The Raiders have lost just two of the last nine meetings dating back to 2013 with four wins out of the last five meetings at Canberra Stadium. – Canberra have posted 24-plus points in seven of those nine clashes. – The last six matches between the teams have topped 48 points with an average total of 59 across those six games. – Canberra are 13-6 over in home day/twilight games since 2015 with a 7-12 ATS record while the Knights are 11-8 over. – Canberra have covered just 1 of their last 6 as a home favourite of less than a try. – The over is 9-5 in Canberra after the Raiders conceded 24 or more. – The Knights are 12-6 over interstate.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf is expecting plenty of points here and is making the overs his best bet. He also likes the Raiders to put up a big margin after the disappointment of last week’s loss to the Gold Coast. The Raiders have posted 24-plus points in seven of the last nine clashes against the Titans and won four of the last five meetings in Canberra. If the Raiders play like they did in the first 30 minutes against the Titans, they’ll run up a cricket score here!
How It’s Shaping UpCanberra by 20
Recommended BetsBest: Over 45.5 ($1.88) Value: Canberra 13+ ($3.40) First Tryscorer: Nick Cotric ($11)