Jordan Rapana of the Raiders.
Jordan Rapana of the Raiders. LUKAS COCH

Eels wary of Raiders' dream team

IT'S A match-up that excites Brad Arthur the footy fan, but also one that has probably been giving him a few headaches as well.

Who gets the better of the clash between Raiders duo Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana and Eels pair Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra will go a long way towards determining the result at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Eels coach Arthur said he had been trying to formulate a strategy to stop the influence of "Leipana".

Rapana and Leilua have cemented their reputation as arguably the league's most potent attacking combination.

They have combined for six tries, three try assists, six line breaks and 37 tackle busts this season - with winger Rapana averaging 162 metres and centre Leilua 92.

"You need to try to dictate where you give them the ball, our kick chase is going to have to be good," Arthur said.

"If you give them too much footy, you're going to pay the price.

"We're very happy with our left edge, Michael Jennings is a very good defensive centre. That's his biggest asset and he's going to have a very big job on his hands."

Arthur also has confidence in Radradra, despite him experiencing a so-called drought, not having scored in two games.

"Off the back of four tries in one game, it is a bit of a drought," Arthur said of Radradra.

 

Michael Jennings of the Eels.
Michael Jennings of the Eels. DAN HIMBRECHTS

"If we don't hold the ball, it's very hard for him to score.

"Last week against the Sharks he went looking for the ball but we didn't have it on the terms we'd like to be giving it to him."

Arthur's Eels, currently with two wins and two losses this year, will be trying to win in Canberra for the first time in more than a decade.

The Raiders, though, will be desperate to maintain their edge at home after suffering losses in three of their first four games.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said he had faith in his side's attack, despite being plagued by handling errors.

"We have quite a unique attacking team so there is a little bit more risk involved in a lot of our play and there are the opportunities of dropped ball," Stuart said.

"I certainly don't, and I won't, hamper our attack in regards to restricting it in any way.

"We just need to be a little bit better in collision and handle some dropped balls better than we have."

Stuart was confident star hooker Josh Hodgson would be fit to play.

Hodgson suffered a chest injury in Canberra's one-point loss to Brisbane last week.

News Corp Australia


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