Raiders aim for back-to-back NRL wins

Canberra want to take advantage of a Melbourne side without Billy Slater and break through for their first home victory of the NRL season.

The Raiders have lost both matches at GIO Stadium this year, but enter Sunday’s match riding high from last round’s comfortable win over Manly in Albury.

Prop Paul Vaughan said stringing together successive wins was high on coach Ricky Stuart’s agenda in the off-season, given they’d only done it once since August 2013.

A loss to the Storm this weekend will mark the first time ever the Green Machine have lost their opening three matches of the season at the iconic Canberra venue.

“We talked about that before the season, that we want to make it a fortress and we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted,” Vaughan said.

“We really need to win this game at home and just get the crowd around us to get that feeling back in Canberra so that teams don’t want to come down here.”

To add to the occasion, Dane Tilse will play his 200th match for the Raiders and final home appearance ahead of his departure to the English Super League.

“Everyone loves Tilse, and we obviously want to do the right thing by him and win the game for him,” Vaughan said.

Working in their favour is the absence of Slater, who has been sidelined for a month after injuring his shoulder in the Storm’s impressive win over the Warriors.

Craig Bellamy’s men have really struggled without Slater in recent seasons – winning just five of 20 matches without him (25 per cent) and averaging just 11.7 points (compared to a win-rate of 70 per cent and 23.7 points when he’s playing).

Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said not having their No.1 will take “a lot of punch out of the Melbourne team”.

“You take Billy Slater out of any team and it’s going to miss a little bit,” he said.

“But they’re such a well-drilled side, especially with (Cameron) Smith and (Cooper) Cronk there, I think whoever fills in at the back will be on-point.”


* Canberra have won just 10 of their past 35 matches against Melbourne. Their come-from-behind 24-22 win last season was just their second victory in 13 clashes with the Storm in Canberra.

* If the Raiders lose, it would be the first time they’ve lost their opening three matches of a season at GIO Stadium.

* The Raiders have been the worst second half team so far in 2015, conceding 68 points (equal most) while scoring just 18 (the fewest).

* Ill-discipline can cost the Storm, who’ve given away the second highest number of penalties in the league. And they’ve been made to pay – half of the 14 tries they have conceded this season have come from the set following a penalty.

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