Topic: Toyota Cup: Raiders out to get back on finals track  

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Toyota Cup: Raiders out to get back on finals track
« on: August 07, 2011, 11:38:14 AM »
Toyota Cup: Raiders out to get back on finals track

The battle for a finals birth in the National Youth Competition is up for grabs. There are currently six sides on the ladder with four points or less between them and eighth spot.

The Raiders Toyota Cup side desperately needs a win in this Sunday’s crucial fixture against the Newcastle Knights to keep in touch with a top eight and keep their season alive.

“This is probably our biggest game of the season because if we lose this we’re going to be having no hope of making the finals,” said halfback Chris Medcalf.

“It’s do or die for us now so if we have another loss we’re probably not going to make the top eight so all the boys are going to be giving 110% this week to ensure we come away with a win.”

Both sides are fairly evenly matched however the Raiders beat the Knights 34 – 24 at home to take the honours in round seven earlier this year.

Since then, the Knights have climbed ahead of the Raiders to 11th position after last week’s high-scoring 52-32 win over the Gold Coast Titans whilst Canberra now sit one below at 12th spot after a disappointing couple of weeks.

“We’re going through a big slump at the moment but all the boys are still going out and putting in 100% effort but we’re just not getting the results that we want,” said Medcalf, who has amassed 160 points for the year.

“They’re in the same position as us too; if they lose this one they can’t make finals either so it’s going to be a matter of who comes out on the day and turns up.”

The Novocastrian outfit can certainly score points and Canberra will certainly need to lift their defensive game this week after conceding one hundred points in their past two losses.
Danger men for Knights include halfback Tyrone Roberts, who spent some time in first grade earlier in the year, and captain Ethan Cook; whose ability to offload shapes as a great hurdle for Canberra.

“They’re both great players and one’s we’ll need to watch,” Medcalf said.
“Roberts’ has had a couple of NRL we’re going to have to be on our game to control him to make sure he isn’t able to run amuck.”
“We’ve been working on defence a lot at training on wrapping up the opposition’s offloads particularly with Cook’s ability to offload.”

Coach David Hamilton has moved Tom Murphy, who made 49 tackles last week, from lock to second row to mark up against Cook, whilst interestingly last week’s wing pairing of Medcalf and Sami Sauiluma will form a potent new halves combination for the side.

“There is a need for some older heads to guide the younger players out on the field because if we don’t win this game it’s our season gone,” Hamilton said and both players are two of the most experienced, versatile and talented players within the squad.

The Green Machine will travel up the F3 on Sunday to Ausgrid Stadium where the match kicks off at 11:45am.