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Two finals aspirants collide tonight as the Canberra Raiders host the Parramatta Eels in what should be a great contest to conclude Round 5. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 6:10pm AEST.
Both the Raiders and Eels are 3-1 to start the season and for one side, that record is only going to get better after 80 minutes.
The Eels and Raiders were not fancied for a place in the top eight before season kickoff but have since begun proving doubters wrong.
Parramatta in particular have defied the odds so far by defeating the Sharks, Panthers and Bulldogs.
Their only defeat however did come against reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters, who were missing Cooper Cronk along with Jake Friend and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who both left the field injured. Even so, the Roosters still had too much class and this defeat served as a wake-up call for Eels fans.
Despite defeating the Sharks last week, Cronulla also fielded a weakened line-up and so today’s test against a firing Raiders outfit should serve as a proper litmus test to see how strong the Eels truly are.
Despite missing the finals the past few seasons, the Raiders remain a force to be reckoned with on their day. They remain one of the most dangerous attacking teams in the competition and have also added a fair bit of defensive steel to their play as well courtesy of the fine introduction of players such as John Bateman.
Despite a defeat to Melbourne, Canberra are a team clicking into gear and if they manage to peak tonight, the Eels may have a hard time keeping up with the green machine.
Stars such as Joseph Leilua and Jordan Rapana in particular will provide the Eels with a stern defensive test not experienced since their Round 3 defeat to the Roosters. If the Eels can shut those two players down, then it will go a long way to securing victory tonight.
In team news, New Zealand back-rower Joseph Tapine is set to return from a broken thumb from the bench. Aidan Sezer has been named among the reserves as he continues his bid to return from an abdominal muscle injury. The Eels are set to be unchanged from the side that beat the Sharks last weekend.
This should be a very well contested affair between two teams high on confidence. The Raiders still appear to be the more dynamic outfit and at home, may just prove to be too strong for the gallant Eels.
Raiders by 8
Kickoff: 6:10pm AEST
Venue: GIO Stadium
Betting: Raiders $1.60, Eels $2.40
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Sam Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Hudson Young 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Joseph Tapine. Reserves: 18. Royce Hunt 19. Aidan Sezer 20. Bailey Simonsson 21. JJ Collins
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Jaeman Salmon 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tepai Moeroa. Interchange: 14. Peni Terepo 15. Tim Mannah 16. Kane Evans 17. Oregon Kaufusi. Reserves: 18. David Gower 19. Ray Stone 20. Josh Hoffman 21. Bevan French