Raiders ready for round one

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UFO Hunter
Raiders ready for round one

The CFMEU Canberra Raiders have returned from their week long camp in Brisbane with the bonus of a strong performance in their second trial match, after defeating the Wests Tigers 26-4 at Davies Park on Saturday night.

After going down to the combined Redcliffe/Broncos outfit a week earlier this result has boosted the side's confidence ahead of round one, where the Raiders will take on the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on March 17.

Raiders Coach Neil Henry said the win has not only helped the side’s preparation, but has shown what the team is capable of in 2007.

"It certainly gives us some confidence leading into round one against Manly," Henry said. "There was a lot better ball control and particularly in the second half there were some good signs with our attack."

Henry said the make-up of the first match is now fairly assured, with only a few small questions hanging over the 17 man side to take on the Sea Eagles.

"The side is pretty well ready but there are still a few questions. The fullback role saw Marshall Chalk played well and he scored a couple of tries and William Zillman looked fairly comfortable when he went back to fullback," he said. "The halves are a little bit settled now with Michael Dobson and Todd Carney, and the hooking role saw Lincoln Withers and Andrew Dunemann sharing but I think Lincoln has the front running for that."

After some poor handling in their first trial Henry said the Raiders had improved heavily in their second outing, but also stressed that the first trial had not been a complete disaster.

"We talked all week about how we needed to control the ball a bit more and we were able to do that and we played some good footy," he said. "There were still positives out of that first trial, we defended well and when we controlled the ball we put some pressure on and bombed three or four opportunities to score."

With round one less than two weeks away Henry said there will be some questions to answer in the next fortnight about the return from injury of some of the Raiders first grade contenders, and he expected to see some healthy competition for a spot in the side.

"David Howell is due back from a quad strain and it will be touch and go to see if he’s right for round one, but if he’s fit and ready to go he will certainly come into contention for a centre spot. Marshall Chalk in particular played well for us in that right centre spot, he’s a great utility for us as he can play centre fullback and back row so he’s value somewhere in the 17 will be there," he said. "Tom Learoyd-Lahrs will be out for a couple of rounds and Troy Thompson is close to being ready for round one or two, but those two coming back with Michael Weyman returning from a quad strain makes it interesting."

The Raiders have received a well earned break for their pre-season efforts, and will return to training on Wednesday morning in preparation for the start of the 2007 campaign.

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