Raiders seek to end NRL drought in Nth Qld

It’s been nine years since Canberra last beat North Queensland at home, but they’re determined not to make it a decade of NRL losses on Saturday.

The Raiders this week head to Townsville just one win outside the top eight in ninth, thanks to Sunday’s 34-24 thriller against Penrith.

Their away record this season is impressive – winning six from nine on the road, versus two from nine at GIO Stadium.

But they haven’t triumphed in far north Queensland since May 2006, when Todd Carney nailed a field goal in extra time to seal the 15-14 victory.

Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii rates the ground “one of the hardest spots” to play rugby league.

“Obviously if we haven’t won in nine years it’s pretty tough,” he said on Tuesday.

“But hopefully this isn’t the 10th year.

“We’re going to have a good week, go up prepared and prepare to win.”

The Cowboys are the Raiders’ highest-ranked challenger remaining this season, with their final five matches against teams below them on the ladder.

They’ve won 14 of their last 15 games, including Monday night’s 46-4 thrashing of Parramatta despite an error-riddled first hour.

Boasting the likes of fellow Queensland Origin stars Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Michael Morgan, Papalii knows they’re going to test his side.

“There’s no doubt JT’s going to be steering them around, with Matty Scott and Jimmy Tamou leading them, we’re going to have to do a good job on those guys,” he said.

“But we’ve got nothing to lose.

“We’ve just go to go up there and win to keep our dreams alive.”

Hooker Josh Hodgson is optimistic about getting a result, unfazed by the switch from Canberra’s cold to the heat of Townsville.

“I’m confident we can beat any team in the league when we’re at our best,” said Hodgson.

“I think that’s the most important thing – making sure we’re doing all our roles individually and we’re working as a team.”

The Raiders have named an unchanged line-up to take on the Cowboys, with Ricky Stuart opting to stick with Josh McCrone at halfback in Sam Williams’ absence.

Papalii is free to play after being cleared of a shoulder charge on Panther Nigel Plum.

The 23-year-old said he never expected to cop a ban for what he believed was just a head clash.

“I almost kissed the poor bloke!” he joked.

“I was surprised (it was put on report), but these things happen.”

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