Scouting Report: The Raiders
Canberra come down to Melbourne for their first Preliminary final since 1997.
They have won three of their last four games in the southern state but have played at AAMI Park just once since 2013.
Despite being beaten by the Sharks in Week One of the finals, Ricky Stuart’s side will be full of confidence having won 11 of their last 12 games.
With the number one ranked attack in the NRL and a well-balanced side, we take a look at what Storm need to do to stop an in-form Raiders outfit.
Right edge danger
Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua ran rampant when Storm made the trip to Canberra back in Round 23. The sizeable duo were a constant threat down the Raiders’ right side with Leilua proving the beneficiary with two tries on the night. Rapana has also been in hot form recently, scoring seven tries in his last four games. The challenge for the Storm defence is not allow Leilua and Rapana any space to work in, which would go a long way to halting the momentum of the Raiders’ attack.
Hodgson a triple threat
Whether it is a kick, pass or run, Josh Hodgson presents a significant challenge for the purple wall. He has benefitted greatly this season on the back of Canberra’s much-improved forward pack. His ability to play off their go-forward through the middle of the field has allowed him to steer his side down the field. Hodgson’s match-up at hooker with Cameron Smith will go a long way to deciding who advances to next week.
Must hang in the contest
In their past four games the Raiders have scored seven tries inside the opening 20 minutes. Melbourne knows full well how much Canberra love to burst out of the blocks after they scored in the first minute of the game back in Round 23. The Sharks surrendered two early tries in Week One of the finals but their ability to hang in the contest proved crucial. The Raiders are a good front-running team so Storm will need to dig deep when the contest is at its most fierce early.