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NRL: Raiders out to keep finals hopes alive

The Canberra Raiders need to beat the Newcastle Knights on Sunday to keep their finals hopes alive, while St George Illawarra and the Gold Coast Titans go head-to-head in the other game of the day.

The Raiders are breathing down the neck of the Sydney Roosters who occupy eighth spot on the ladder and Ricky Stuart’s side cannot afford any slip ups against a struggling Newcastle side.

The Knights have had a week to forget on and off the field. Indeed the season has been a write-off. However they could be looking to prove the critics wrong and the green machine cannot take anything for granted at McDonald Jones Stadium.

St George Illawarra Dragons have seen their finals hopes disappear over the last few weeks but they will be looking for a strong finish to the season nonetheless.

The Titans need the win as they attempt to avoid the wooden spoon for the second time in four years so do have something to play for.

Two games to wrap up the round so let’s take a closer look at both games.

What: St George Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans
Where: WIN Stadium, Sydney
When: 14:00 (AEST) Sunday 21st August 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel

The Dragons saw their slim finals hopes finally disappear last week when they slipped to a two-point defeat against the Canberra Raiders and now have to try and pick themselves up for a home clash with the Titans.

It has been a poor few weeks for the Red V, who looked in good shape to make the eight just a few weeks ago.

However one win in six games has seen them slide down the table and they will miss out on finals for the fourth consecutive. That is the worst sequence since they began in 1999.

Despite only signing a new deal at the start of the season, the pressure is on coach Anthony Griffin and it remains to be seen if he will still be in charge for 2023.

A strong end to the season may help and the Dragons are in need of a result against the Titans or the knives really will be out for the coach.

They did however push the Raiders all the way last week and Griffin is keeping faith with the same side that slipped to a 22-20 defeat in the nation’s capital. Jayden Sullivan is looking to return from a shoulder injury and has been named among the reserves.

The Titans played finals last season but are now attempting to avoid the wooden spoon following a dramatic fall down the ladder.

There have been some encouraging signs over the last few weeks however. None more so than last week when they smashed the Manly Sea Eagles 44-24.

Justin Holbrook’s men should still be on a high following that result and will be keen to back it up against the Dragons.

They can also take heart from the fact they beat the Dragons 20-16 back in the Magic Round clash in round 10. So the double is on.

The Titans are also boosted by the return of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui although they did manage to beat the Sea Eagles last week without their skipper.

What: Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders
Where: McDonald Jones Stadium, Sydney
When: 16:05 (AEST) Sunday 21st August 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel

Newcastle’s season continues to go from bad to worse and not only are they struggling with performances on the pitch, they have also been in the headlines for incidents away from it.

Injured duo Kalyn Ponga and Kurt Mann found themselves in a bit of hot water, while Bradman Best and Enari Tuala have been stood down for disciplinary reasons and will miss the clash against the Raiders.

It will now be interesting to see how they respond following a tough week. Another large crowd is expected at McDonald Jones Stadium and the Knights will be keen to perform for their long-suffering supporters.

They have lost four out of the last five games and they have been drubbed on home soil a few times already this season.

Edrick Lee has recovered from a foot injury and is set to return, while Dave Klemmer is also expected to come back in.

The Raiders have to win to keep the pressure on the Roosters in the race for the top eight and there can be no complacency.

They almost slipped up last week before holding on to a two-point win over the Dragons, which kept them in touch.

The green machine also have games against the Sea Eagles and Tigers to come so have a great chance to win all three. But it may not be enough depending on what the Roosters do.

Coach Stuart is back following a one-week suspension while Joseph Tapine and Nick Cotric also return.

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