Canberra co-captain Josh Hodgson admits their clash against Manly is the top-four battle nobody saw coming when the NRL season kicked off five months ago.
Neither team was tipped to play finals, let alone one make the top four, but the two underdog stories of 2019 meet in a blockbuster clash at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and his Sea Eagles counterpart Des Hasler are among the most passionate in the game and have their sides flying at the business end of the season.
Canberra came back from 18-0 down to knock off competition leaders Melbourne last week, while Manly have won four of their past five games.
Hodgson said he was expecting a grinding battle through the middle.
"Everyone wrote them off before the year had started and no one even had them in the top eight and was predicting them to come near the bottom," Hodgson said.
"Watching them play they're all playing for each other and have that real desire and seem like a really gritty team, no matter what is thrown at them they kind of love the niggle.
"They love getting into the tussle which is good for our middles, that's the kind of games you want to be in and they're entertaining to watch.
"They just look like a team that was written off before the year started and they've all bought in together.
"But I'm sure they're not getting too carried away as we aren't, we've not done anything yet. Just because we're sitting in a decent spot on the ladder doesn't mean we've won anything."
The game marks the Raiders' third straight top-four clash and Green Machine enforcer Josh Papalii tipped fireworks in the capital.
"It will be massive. There is a bit of history there between the clubs and the last time they came down it was a pretty fiery game and we're expecting nothing less," Papalii said.
"They have a good-looking outfit with the Trbovich (Jake and Tom) brothers, they're going to be a hard outfit to stop.
"They're a pretty classy team but the focus will be on ourselves.
"The boys are definitely up for the challenge."
Australian Associated Press