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NRL: Raiders missing Wighton for Panthers clash

The Canberra Raiders have had a tough week and they will be out to end it on a high when they take on Penrith Panthers on Friday night.

The Raiders have been rocked by the news that long-serving playmaker Jack Wighton is ready to weigh up his options elsewhere on the open market, while he has also been hit with a two-game ban.

Also throw in the fact that the Raiders have won just one game from four this season and they are in need of a lift. But it will be far from easy against a Panthers side that are desperate to find some consistency.

The late kick-off on Friday night is also a cracker as South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Melbourne Storm. Both of these sides are 2-2 for the season and neither will want to slip to a third defeat in five.

It means the stakes are even higher than normal and we have a potential classic on our hands at Accor Stadium in Sydney. 

The round began with the Sydney Roosters beating Parramatta Eels 28-20 on Thursday night and now it is time to look ahead to Friday’s action. Here is the latest from all four camps.

What:Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers
Where:GIO Stadium, Canberra
When:18:00 (AEST) Friday 31st March 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Raiders 4.00, Panthers 1.25

Raiders need a boost

The Raiders sit in 16th spot on the ladder after picking up just the one win so far. After losing the opening two games they thought they had turned a corner with a four-point home win over Cronulla Sharks. 

However they took a couple of steps back with a 24-14 loss at Newcastle last weekend. They were leading 14-8 at the break but threw it away in the second half and that will concern coach Ricky Stuart. 

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With games against the Panthers and Brisbane Broncos to come, things do not get any easier for the green machine. To make matters worse they will be without Wighton after the five-eighth was handed a two-match suspension for his high shot on Newcastle star Jackson Hastings last week. 

Matt Frawley is set to step into the No.7 jersey to cover for the absence of Wighton. There is some good news for the Raiders. Both Jordan Rapana and Jamal Fogarty are back in the fold and will add some quality to the side. 

Winger Rapana is back from suspension, while halfback Fogarty has recovered from the illness that forced him out of the Newcastle defeat. 

The Panthers are trying to find their feet following an off-season of change and the golden point loss to Parramatta last week would have been hard to take. They will be confident of clicking into gear sooner rather than later as they still have a side packed with quality and experience. 

Hooker Soni Luke will miss out after suffering a head knock during the defeat to the Eels, while Scott Sorensen comes in to replace Luke Garner who has one or two niggles.

What:South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm
Where:Accor Stadium, Sydney
When:20:00 (AEST) Friday 31st March 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Rabbitohs 1.56, Storm 2.45

Huge game for Souths and Storm

South Sydney were given a lift after edging out Manly Sea Eagles in yet another golden point thriller last Saturday and will be keen to go back-to-back. 

They came fighting back from 12-6 down to take the win courtesy of a Lachlan Ilias drop goal and they will need to show the same fighting spirit on Friday night. 

Melbourne Storm beat Wests Tigers with relative ease, but they have lost to the Titans and Bulldogs already this season so have been patchy to say the least. Craig Bellamy’s side face a huge month which could make them or break them. 

After the game against the Bunnies they must play the Roosters, Sea Eagles and Warriors before the bye. The Storm will be delighted to have Cameron Munster back, but he is still without his halves partner, as Jahrome Hughes serves the final week of a two-game ban.

It gives another opportunity for starlet Jonah Pezet to shine in the No.9 jersey. The youngster is tipped as a star of the future and he will be hoping to show it. 

Souths will welcome back prop forward Hame Sele who has had a spell on the sidelines with concussion but is now allowed to return.

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