Raiders Rumble! – Sharks vs Raiders Rd1 preview

BY ROB

raidersvsharks

Raiders Rumble will be the weekly preview section for the Sportress, taking a semi-serious look at the Raiders match for the round. Don’t expect too much serious analysis, especially when we play the dreaded Bye round!

Round 1 sees the Raiders start the year with an away match against fellow cellar dwellers of 2014 the Sharks. The two sides last met in rd24 of last year, and it was a pretty bland affair. The Raiders won, despite McCrone’s best efforts to constantly throw the ball into touch. After much fumbling of the footy the two sides managed to reach the eighty minute mark, with Canberra being the less crappier of the two.

Both squads are significantly different in 2015, fielding new halves combinations, new hookers and new uniforms. Betting agencies are massively in favour of the Sharks, but clearly they just want all the money from a Raiders upset.

Big Three – Sharks

Ben Barba: Remember when the Broncos worked their asses off trying to secure Barba? The effort was probably more memorable than the ensuing experiment where Barba woefully underperformed. Brisbane decided that five potential fullbacks in 2015 was one too many, and so set Barba on his way to the shire. He’s now playing at #6 alongside Jeff Robson, which isn’t overly inspiring. Barba will need to give the Raiders a short back and sides to get off to a good start.

Paul Gallen: The Sharks Captain and number one enforcer had a dismal 2014, culminating in a back dated suspension from the ASADA saga. Gallen will have a full tank ready to run the Raiders over.

Anthony Tupou: I was going to originally pick Fifita in this spot, but after his contract dramas last year I’m undecided as to whether or not he actually wants to be a shark. Tupou however is consistent force to be reckoned with, and has the range to play in the centres or to switch it up into the back row if needed.

Big Three – Raiders

Mitch Cornish: depth, angle of attack and varied options are all things the Raiders suddenly have with Cornish at #7 – the attacking line immediately stands deeper, passes are thought through and kicking options are good. Exciting potential to combine with newcomer Austin who looks to be a smart #6.

Shaun Fensom: the tackling engine room/heart of the Green Machine. Valued as much for his totemic standing as he is for his massive workload. Massive boost to forward pack in defense, while his off the ball work in attack is near peerless.

Jarrod Croker: Have to give this spot to the guy who pretty much scored all of our points last season, and deservedly takes up the mantle of captain. If the forwards do their job and defend well it will leave Croker with more energy for attack. His ultimate finishing move is getting outside opposition wingers only to execute a deft pass back inside.

You Wot Mate?

I’ve read a few match previews for this game where commentators seem to think that the paring of Barba and Hobson will smother the duo of Cornish and Austin. It doesn’t anger me (I have meds for that) but it does leave me somewhat perplexed and amused. Barba is not really known for being a six, and Robson can only be described as a decent halfback. Cornish is one of the hottest rising halves, and Austin demonstrated that he is most definitely a threat last year. Canberra bashing at its most subtle.

Crystal Ball
Raiders by 6, Josh McCrone banished to Mordor forever.

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