The Raiders had no mercy for the wounded Titans in round 6, and took full advantage of their oppositions extensive injury toll to secure the two points and their first consecutive win of the season. Saturdays match is the natural progression of this platform building, as the Raiders face down a side that is also looking to consolidate their place on the ladder.
The scoreline of the win over the Titans belied the scrappy nature of the second half. After controlling possession and the ball so well for the first forty minutes the Raiders were sucked back down to the Titans level, choosing to engage with the same level of desperado that was fuelling the Gold Coast. Coach Stuart would not have been pleased, and undoubtedly will have spent all week reminding his halves and hooker that this round is very much an eighty minute contest.
This is now the key attribute for the Raiders to perfect in the run up to Origin – discipline. With an ever increasing chance that they may be without some valuable strike power for at least three games they need to learn not to fall back into old, rash habits. Lesser ranked teams will look to beat them on pure razzle, and it’s here that the Raiders need to stay the course, complete sets and control the ball.
The Warriors have begun to show that signing Foran (Boooo) to a one year deal was a smart move – he was key to their win in round 6, and looks to be set to form a threatening trinity with Johnson and Luke. They have enjoyed success in Canberra in recent years and will be looking to build upon this.
The Raiders can take pride in the fact that even with the Titans down and out the big men of the Green Machine rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in. Boyd and Paulo finally pulled their weight, and they’ll be key to wresting some of the momentum away from the bigger Warriors.
Between a Pack and a Hard Place
The Raiders starting forwards ran riot over the Titans, to the extent that the bench forwards barely got a look in (and when they did, bad things happened). Between them they combined for a whopping 736 metres off 72 carries (avg 10.22m). Equally important was their defensive cohesion, with only Whitehead missing a tackle. They were everywhere and in everything, from midfield rampages to picking up tries off grubbers.
The bench forwards were not so great. Maybe it was their limited time, or the fact that the starters had already finished the job, but when they came on they looked a little, well, lost (Sia is excused from this as he did run hard and put in a good effort defensively).
Here at the Sportress Bateman has affectionately been dubbed “The Greyman”. It was Priest, however, who was truly Captain Vanilla against the Titans. If he wishes to safeguard his place from a certain Coal Train he’ll need to lift his on-field input while minimising his rather costly errors.
The Warriors forward pack boasts the likes of Hoffman, Lillyman and Mannering (oh man…), all three of whom are seasoned veterans capable of engaging in the grind for territory. It’s up to Boyd, Paulo and co to turn them back.
We’re almost at critical mass. Against the Titans Sezer, Austin and Hodgson unleashed a barrage of running, passing and short range kicking that no doubt has other teams practicing goal line defence. Austin previously has been accused of being unable to pass, but he now looks supremely poised as he takes the ball to the line and then sends it into the sweeping backline flow that the Raiders currently use.
Sezer and Hodgson continue to serve up tries on platters, Hodgson with his short kicks for teammates behind the line and Sezer with his cross-field chips.
They face a real test this week as the face off with the NZ spine. Foran, Johnson and Luke can all be lethal when they want, and the Raiders trio will need to dig deep into their bag of tricks to keep the Green Machine from becoming pinned in their own half (40/20 anyone?)
Put Your Back(s) Into It
RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA. RAPANA.
Also Croker, Cotric, Wighton and Leilua. Find me a better back five in the NRL.
RTS has Fusitua, Ayshford, Kata and Maumalo in tow, but will it be enough to bring the Raiders backline down to earth? Probably not.
If the Raiders can ruin it for the Warriors spine then they’ll go a long way to beating them. They need to stay on course and not get embroiled in trading razzle plays with the opposition.
Raiders by 8!