The Canberra Raiders go head-to-head against the Illawarra Steelers in the SG Ball Grand Final this Saturday 3pm at Leichhardt Oval.
Both sides finished the regular season out of the top three but proved to be strong competitors in their final’s campaigns, both securing a spot in the grand finale.
In last week’s semi-final, the Raiders started strong and were able to score three tries in the first 10 minutes of play. Coach Ash Barnes knows a similar start will be crucial on the weekend.
“It was something that we focused on going against Manly, we knew they had a powerful side and we needed to start strong, and the Steelers are no different.”
The Steelers showed their speed and ability in the middle in their 42-32 semi-final win over the Roosters, where five-eighth Junior Amone scored a hat-trick.
The Raiders defence needs to be spot on come Saturday, and after their defensive efforts last week Barnes knows they can get the job done.
“For the majority of that second half [last week], it felt like we were defending our end.” Barnes said. “The boys showed great intent and desire to hold their line in attack and that’s something I’m really proud of.”
“There’s a massive focus around our defence this weekend.” Barnes said. “We’re quite confident in our attack and what we can do with an even amount of possession, but it’s just really making sure our defence is on.”
Naming the same 17 men for Saturday is a huge advantage for the young Raiders in Barnes’ eyes.
“We’re rolling in being able to name the same 17 for the fourth week in a row, so the combinations and consistency are all starting to build.”
“They’re starting to be confident around their ability as indiv