NRL SEMI-FINAL BETWEEN SYDNEY ROOSTERS AND CANBERRA:-
WHEN: Friday, 7.50pm AEDT
WHERE: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
* Sydney Roosters (fourth). Following last year’s grand-final victory over Canberra, the teams have split results this season with the Roosters winning in round 17. They are coming off a one-point loss to minor premiers Penrith, which followed their last-round shellacking, but won’t want to see their quest for a title three-peat end this early.
* Canberra Raiders (fifth). The Raiders’ last loss was the round-17 meeting with the Roosters and are aiming for their fifth win on the trot. No side in the NRL era has won from outside the top four but Canberra feel like they’re building at the right time and fancy their chances of breaking the trend.
* Overall: Played 65, Roosters 36 wins, Raiders 29 wins
* In finals: Roosters 4 wins, Raiders 1 win
* Last time: Round 17, 2020: Roosters 18 bt Raiders 6 at GIO Stadium
* Under Trent Robinson, the Roosters have never been knocked out of the finals in the opening two weeks, making at least the preliminary final in all six finals campaigns.
* Canberra’s Ricky Stuart’s win record of 33.3 per cent against the Roosters, who he coached for five years, is his second worst against any team.
Luke Keary (Roosters) v Jack Wighton (Raiders)
The pair both boast a Clive Churchill Medal, with Wighton winning it last year’s despite Canberra’s grand-final loss to the Roosters. Few read the game better than Keary, who can sniff an attacking opportunity a mile away. Wighton is a big, strong body who is happy to take on the attack himself.
Boyd Cordner (Roosters) v John Bateman (Raiders)
While Australian captain Cordner is a workhorse, Bateman offers the Raiders flair and excitement. The Englishman is headed home and is determined to leave a winner. Cordner has had a rough year marked by personal tragedy and repeat head knocks but can be counted on in the big moments.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) v Josh Papalii (Raiders)
Skilful and speedy for his size, Papalii is the motor that gets the Green Machine firing. Recently signing a deal that will make him a Raider for life, Papalii is their pack leader. Veteran Waerea-Hargreaves won’t be short of motivation with the Kiwi forward looking to get one over his Test rival.
* Expect a tight one, with 12 of the past 14 games between the teams decided by 12 points or less, including 10 by six points
* This will be the fourth game between the sides at the SCG, with the Raiders winning two, including their round 10 game this year.
* Roosters by 4