Canberra Raiders wary of Knights in NRL

Canberra admit they cannot afford to let their guard down against NRL strugglers Newcastle – a lesson they learnt last time they met.

The Raiders led 16-0 just before half-time in their round-three clash, only to finish 24-all after extra time.

While the Green Machine have since bounced back, winning four of their past five matches, the Knights are on a nine-game losing streak – their worst run since 2005.

They sit bottom of the ladder with just one win in the season.

“The Knights haven’t been going so well this year but if you put your guard down they’re a chance of beating you,” Raiders man-mountain Shannon Boyd said ahead of Sunday’s match at GIO Stadium.

“They’re not a bad side, they’ve got some good forwards, so if we don’t pick up and start off well it’ll be a tough game.”

Late-game fadeouts have been an issue for the Raiders throughout this season, including Sunday’s 30-22 win over Gold Coast.

They were up 30-10 with 10 minutes to go, but let slip two converted tries.

“There was probably a little bit of a lapse there, though nothing major,” Boyd said.

“But from a few other games we’ve been talking about that, making sure we’re playing 80 minutes of footy instead of 50 or 60.”

There’ll be some familiar faces on both sides, with Raiders youngsters Joseph Tapine and Joey Leilua facing their former club and new Knights recruit Mitch Barnett returning to his old stomping ground.

Barnett only moved to the Hunter a few weeks ago and has played two consecutive games for Newcastle – equal the number of appearances he made for Canberra during two years with the club.

“He’s quite an aggressive defender, but we’ll just try and rip into him as well I guess,” Boyd said.

Veteran Sia Soliola (ribs) and fullback Jack Wighton (sternum) have been named and are expected to play on Sunday despite their injuries against the Titans.

Hookers Kurt Baptiste and Josh Hodgson have been cleared of concussion.

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