The Wests Tigers are oozing optimism, but coach Jason Taylor is wary of just how quickly Canberra’s cold can put a freeze on it.
The joint venture snapped a five-game NRL losing streak and lifted themselves off the bottom of the ladder with a surprise 34-16 win over perennial finalists Melbourne last Friday.
While a top-eight berth remains out of reach this season, Taylor said the victory and 10-day turnaround put them in good stead for Monday’s clash with the Raiders at GIO Stadium.
“The positivity is just flowing out of the boys at the moment and we’re really looking forward to a tough game,” said Taylor.
“We’ve worked really hard on staying positive with things, but it was probably at a point where it was going to be really tough had we been coming off another loss.
“It’s good that we didn’t have to do that.”
The Tigers will come up against a hungry Raiders outfit, who could pitch themselves into the top eight with a win while a loss could put them out of finals contention altogether.
For the first time in 2015 they’ll be playing without damaging forward Sia Soliola, out for the season with a fractured cheekbone, hooker Josh Hodgson (ankle) and Edrick Lee (suspension).
While neither side have a good history on Monday nights, the visitors’ record is worse with just victory in 10 matches away from home.
Add to that single-digit temperatures and Taylor’s men face a real challenge in the nation’s capital.
“We know it’s going to be cold,” he said. “It sounds silly, but it can be an issue for teams.
“If you’re not ready for the cold, Canberra can jump out of the gates pretty quickly and they can often put a team right on the backfoot.
“We’ve tried to replicate as much as we could with a night (training) session on Friday in Camden.
“It’s just a mental thing and we’re ready for it.”
Both sides have made some in-roads when it comes to defence this season, but stopping their opponents’ go-foward has proven a real issue.
The Raiders have conceded over 1500 metres per game, the most of any team, while the Tigers are the second worst offenders at 1491.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Raiders have a poor overall record against the Tigers, winning just over 41 per cent of their matches.
* Five of their past six meetings have been decided by 13 points or more.
* Canberra have won just two of nine games at home this season, while Wests Tigers have claimed just three from nine on the road.
* Plenty of milestones for the Raiders with veteran David Shillington celebrating his 200th NRL match, Josh Papalii his 100th, and NSW Cup star Mitch Barnett making his senior debut.