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18 Mar 2018 17:15
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Raiders' NRL finals fight could end in NZ

    Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin believes the Warriors will have a point to prove, making their must-win NRL clash in New Zealand a tough task.

    - article from

    After a season of not meeting expectations, Canberra face the cruel prospect of having their finals hopes killed off by the NRL's perennial underachievers.

    The Warriors have crashed to five-straight losses as they prepare to host the resurgent Raiders on Sunday at Mt Smart Stadium.

    It will be the sixth consecutive season that the men from Auckland have failed to qualify for the finals.

    While the Raiders were expected to challenge for the premiership on the back of last year's preliminary-final appearance, they're two games out of the eight.

    The Green Machine need to win their remaining four games to give them a chance of playing finals.

    Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin sees a parallel between his side and the Warriors.

    "They're in a similar position to what we've been in for most of the year," Austin said.

    "Every year, the experts have high expectations for the Warriors and, once again, they've struggled to live up to them.

    "They're going to have a point to prove."

    The difference is the Raiders' faint playoff hopes remain alive.

    Back-to-back wins have coincided with improved performances from Austin and halfback Aidan Sezer.

    The pair switched sides mid-season, allowing Austin to play on the left edge and team up with second-rower Josh Papalii, a man he credited as a major part of his breakout 2015 when he was crowned the competition's best five-eighth.

    Austin said he begged coach Ricky Stuart to allow them to combine again.

    "That was one of the main reasons I was so excited about getting back on the left," Austin said.

    With Josh Hodgson returning to starting hooker, the Raiders' playmakers found greater balance as they scored a convincing win last week over defending premiers Cronulla.

    "It's a real shame that it's taken this long but, for whatever reason, we've found a little bit of a groove and it's important we keep that groove going," Austin said.

    With everything on the line for the Raiders, they face a team with nothing to lose.

    "We're under no illusions how tough this road trip is but, at the end of the day, it's just a must-win and that's what we're preparing to do," Austin said.


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