Three losses in a row have the Green Machine back down the ladder, due mainly to the fact that half their rivals got a leg up by (a) beating them and (b) having a bye and gaining two points. The Raiders are due a freebie in two weekend’s time, but before that can happen they need to take on the Newcastle Knights, who are also suffering through a mini slump of sorts.
The Raiders made it three bad starts in a row against the Broncos and were never truly able to regain any ground. The Knights meanwhile showed some signs of improvement, but it was not enough against the Warriors. If one thing is running in the Raiders favour it’s that they’re better this year at away games (so far at least). They seem to relish the bigger challenge of being in front of a hostile crowd, and hopefully last week’s debacle will have left desire for improvement.
Big Three – Knights
Joseph Leilua: Potentially auditioning for a future employer Leilua will have a chance to prove himself against the Raiders somewhat flimsy fringe defence. The metaphorical turn style goes both ways however, and Joey will have to tighten up his own defensive efforts if he’s keen to impress.
Kurt Gidley: With Tyrone Roberts out Gidley will need to slot straight into the 7 and take control if the Knights are to be a chance. With youngster Carlos Tuimavave at 6 Gidley will need to be a calming influence in attack.
Tariq/Korbin Sims: Siblings are always a dangerous combination in the NRL and the Sims boppers are no exception – the Raiders forwards will need to shut them down quick and minimise any offloads.
Big Three – Raiders
Raiders Forwards: Shillo, Fensom, Boyd, Vaughan, Soliola and FPN all clocked respectable stats against the Broncos, proving that the platform is still stable. Special mention goes to Fensom who ran 136 metres and notched 57 tackles.
Raiders Spine: Apparently MIA last weekend, with Hodgson/Baptiste, Austin, Williams and Wighton all under par. Two standouts are Wighton’s 225 metres and William’s pass for Jarrad Kennedys try. The spine needs to be much better this weekend.
Luke Bateman: Bateman has had a weird year, and yes, I realise he’s not actually playing in this game. But hey, he didn’t play last weekend either, just sat on the bench for 80 minutes doing diddly squat. In the four games he’s played this year he has the following minutes: 15, 23, 6 and 0. With the return of Rapana, Kennedy falls back to the bench, and Bateman returns to Mounties where he’s probably quite a solid player, and is allowed on the field.
You Wot Mate?
The Knights are favourites but the Raiders definitely have more to gain – a comprehensive win can theoretically put them back in 8th on a positive differential. If they lose however they could be swamped by the lower order. A big win and a week off sounds good.
The Raiders put in the freakish solid 80 minute defensive effort that was required last week and win the game. Ricky fronts his press conference and gives a long monologue on the pressures of being a modern era coach. McCrone attempts to unleash his army of McClones upon the world but they all falcon each other to death after discovering their origins.