Raiders bolstered by Learoyd-Lahrs return
Canberra's hopes of toppling competition leaders Canterbury have received a boost with representative front-rower Tom Learoyd-Lahrs named to make his return against the Bulldogs on Friday night.
Chasing four straight wins when they host Canterbury, the resurgent Raiders are making a late charge towards a finals berth and Learoyd-Lahrs' return could not come at a better time.
The Australia, NSW and Country player has been sidelined for the past three games with a hamstring injury and has been named on the bench in the only change to the Canberra side that beat the Sydney Roosters 24-20 last Saturday.
David Furner's Raiders are equal on points with Brisbane and Wests Tigers who are seventh and eighth on the ladder with Canberra ninth due to an inferior points differential with two rounds remaining.
The Raiders have lost interchange forward Sam Mataora for the rest of 2012 after his season was declared over due to a serious finger injury suffered against the Roosters.
Mataora underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair tendons on his right ring finger.
Prop Dane Tilse insisted the fact it was a home game - and the last in front of their fans - was still an advantage for the Raiders, despite having lost seven from 12 in Canberra so far.
"The record wasn't so good at the start of the year, but we've had a few wins at home now," he said.
"It's an exciting week for the boys."
Canberra assistant coach Justin Morgan said the Raiders are braced for a huge match against the Bulldogs who are chasing their 13th consecutive victory.
"It's a massive game for the club and arguably our grand final," Morgan said.
"If we don't win this weekend, we have to rely heavily on other results to go our way.
"Destiny is in our own hands, so we definitely have to treat it like a grand final."
Morgan admitted the Raiders haven't produced an 80 minute performance this season and they must improve on their efforts in the past three weeks where they chalked up wins over Brisbane, Penrith and the Roosters.
"No doubt, we're going to have to be a lot better than we have been the last couple of weeks against the Dogs, but hopefully that'll bring out the best in us," Morgan said.
"We'd be the first to admit that our form's been a little bit indifferent, but the past two or three weeks we've made some improvements.Source: NZCity