Rugby League


Raiders' big chance to extend hoodoo

The Canberra Raiders will attempt to extend the St George Illawarra Dragons' 12-year hoodoo in round three next year, when the teams meet in a blockbuster clash on a Sunday afternoon.

The Dragons have not won in the capital since 2000 and the Green Machine has clinched thrilling victories at Canberra Stadium in the past two seasons.

The NRL will issue its 2013 draw on Friday.

The Raiders-Dragons match is scheduled for a 6.30pm kick-off on Sunday, March 24, and will pit new Dragons signing Bronson Harrison against his former team.

''I'm looking to returning to Canberra and know this game has become a very popular fixture for both sets of supporters in recent years,'' second-rower Harrison, who joins the Dragons after four seasons with Canberra, said.

The Raiders had hoped to secure a Thursday-night fixture early in the season, with Channel Nine adding the time slot to its free-to-air coverage. The club also hoped to play a match early in the season against Manly in China.


Meanwhile, fans will have to wait just a few rounds for a grand final rematch between the Storm and Bulldogs.

Premier Melbourne will host Canterbury in round three at AAMI Park on Thursday, March 21, two weeks after the Roosters host traditional rival South Sydney at Allianz Stadium to kick off the season.

''We're pleased to be hosting the Bulldogs early,'' Storm chief executive Ron Gauci said.

''It will be interesting to have rugby league in Victoria on a Thursday night.

''We're looking forward to it and very excited about the prospect of having the grand final rematch at AAMI Park that early in the season.''

Asked about the prospects of putting up the ''house full'' sign, Gauci said: ''We would hope so but, again, Thursday night is an experiment.

''We would hope Melburnians would like to come and see that game.''

A massive crowd will also be expected for the season-opener on March 7, which will no doubt be double-billed as Sonny Bill Williams' return to rugby league, almost five years after walking out on the code.

Fans and clubs have been sweating on the draw for weeks, with the 2013 edition to be the first featuring fixed scheduling for the majority of the season.

Ricky Stuart's life as Parramatta coach will kick off with a home match against the Warriors in a Saturday-night encounter, while Manly will host rival Newcastle in round two in another 2013 innovation - a Sunday twilight encounter.

Other notable fixtures include Cronulla's Friday-night away game against Wests Tigers, when a plethora of Sharks players will face up to their former teammates. AAP