Raiders expect tougher Knights outfit

They smashed them at their last NRL meeting a month ago, but Canberra are expecting a much tougher Newcastle outfit at home on Friday.

The Raiders walked away 44-22 victors in round 13, only to drop their two games since.

So have the Knights, but with a cavalry back for the clash at GIO Stadium – including halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts, plus forwards Kade Snowden, Jeremy Smith and David Fa’alogo – they’re an entirely new proposition.

“It’s a totally different team that are going to be coming here than what we played in Newcastle,” hooker Josh Hodgson said on Wednesday.

“I’m sure they’ll be very desperate and coming here for a fight.

“But we’re looking to be at our best and hoping to come away with the two points.”

The Raiders sit 11th in a congested section of the ladder, while the Knights are second-last and only one win ahead of wooden-spooners Wests Tigers.

Hodgson stopped short of labelling this week’s match as a must-win for the Green Machine, but said it was vitally important to keep their finals hopes alive.

“This week is definitely a massive game for us and I’m sure the Knights will be coming out all guns blazing,” he said.

“They’re a bit lower down on the ladder, so they’ll be looking to try and chase their tails a little bit and get back up the ladder towards the eight.”

Skipper Jarrod Croker said poor completion rates and lack of possession had proved their downfall in their losses to the Warriors and North Queensland and had been a focus over the bye period.

“We’ve completed enough sets to be in it but we just didn’t have enough ball,” he said.

“We were just defending our tryline for a while against both sides.

“It’ll go a long way if we can complete a bit better.”

The Raiders, in their first Friday night match of the season, will be without new recruit Joseph Leilua, whose contract prevents him from playing against his old club this year.

Jordan Rapana has been given the all clear after hurting his ankle last start against the Warriors.

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