As the Raiders have sprung to life over the last month to reignite their NRL finals hopes, it has been their dynamic attack which has garnered most of the praise.
But their work on the other side of the ball now shapes as Canberra’s biggest point of difference on the run home, with the Raiders’ defence putting the Warriors on high alert ahead of hosting them in Auckland this Sunday.
The Green Machine have gone four straight games without giving up more than 20 points in a contest, conceding just 16 points and less than three tries on average across the last month.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) 6 August 2017
Warriors hooker Nathaniel Roache said it presented a huge challenge for his side’s struggling attack.
“It’s pretty bang on about their defence, and they are a massive side as well, which is a daunting challenge,” Roache said.
“They are a very good defensive team but we will just try and throw as much shape as we can at them and all do our jobs.
“Canberra have got a lot of strike through their whole team as well. Good outside backs who can get their sets started and massive forwards that can create a lot of ruck speed.
“We need to win those tackles early and slow the momentum.”
The Warriors have now gone three games in a row where they have failed to score more than two tries, as their attack splutters without the presence of halfback Shaun Johnson.
Over the past month the Kiwi club rank among the NRL’s worst for attacking output, while the Raiders have one of the best defensive records through that period.
Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman said Canberra’s pack had also found their rhythm in recent times.
Last week in a 30-12 victory over the Sharks, led by front-rower Junior Paulo’s 205 metres, they had five forwards go over the 100 mark in yardage.
“They had a really good win on the weekend and in terms of physicality we were certainly down in that area last weekend,” Lillyman said.
“We are going to have to muscle up there, but if we play some flat and fast footy there we can make it hard for them.
“It is important to start well but we probably need to get our defence right this weekend, they are a great attacking team so we are certainly going to have our hands full there.
“They test you in all areas of the field and have some great outside backs… that is a good challenge for us to bounce back and just do the jersey proud.”