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20 Jan 2018 18:03
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Raiders must slay Knights for NRL finals

    Canberra will have to beat Newcastle and hope other results go their way to make an unlikely NRL finals appearance.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    With Canberra's destiny out of their hands, the Raiders' finals aspirations have taken on blunt simplicity ahead of a dangerous clash with Newcastle.

    Canberra must beat the Knights at GIO Stadium on Friday night, before upsetting minor premiers Melbourne in a tough final-round away fixture next week.

    But even two wins might not be enough to keep the Raiders' dream alive.

    They'll be hoping seventh-placed Manly, eight-placed North Queensland and St George Illawarra who are ninth, all suffer losses, to allow them to squeeze into the top eight.

    It's been a frustrating year for the one-time premiership fancies, but skipper Jarrod Croker insists he's proud of his side's recovery after a mid-season losing streak.

    "That period where we lost a couple in a row, a lot of teams would have thrown it in but to the boys' credit they toughed it out," Croker said on Thursday.

    "It's round 25 and we're still hanging in by the skin of our teeth."

    The Knights are in better from than when they stunned the Raiders 34-20 in round 10.

    Before the Storm overpowered them last week, Newcastle had won three in a row for the first time since the start of 2015.

    A win would give Newcastle a chance to avoid becoming the first team to win three consecutive wooden spoons since the Gold Coast Chargers propped up the ladder from 1991 to 1993.

    "That energy they bring and a lot of young kids that bring enthusiasm, it can be hard to handle sometimes and we didn't handle it last time we played them up there," Croker said.

    Newcastle will be without five-eighth Brock Lamb (knee), second-rower Sione Mata'utia (concussion) and bench forward Luke Yates (ankle), while the Raiders are unchanged.

    Few people predicted Canberra would miss the finals, but after losing eight games by six points or fewer they have earned the dreaded "mathematical possibility" tag.

    Knights coach Nathan Brown has labelled the Raiders as the competition's unluckiest team, but Croker doesn't agree.

    "We've been in situations where we've put ourselves in with a chance to win it and didn't do it," he said.

    "I wouldn't call that unlucky."

    STATS THAT MATTER

    * Eight teams have eclipsed the Raiders' mark of losing more than eight games in a season by six points or less

    * All five of Newcastle's wins this season, including against the Raiders, have come when scoring the first try

    Source: Fox Sports Stats

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity


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