To say that the Raiders fortunes have waxed and waned over the first eleven rounds is an understatement. Frustratingly the Green Machine are yet to produce a fully consistent 80 minute performance. They’ve managed to tie two wins together only once. Both of the big boppers in Boyd and Paulo have announced their departures for 2019 in the same fortnight.
It’s fair to say that the forward plan of 2018 will not be the one used next year.
The Raiders square off against a side that comprehensively punished them way back in round 4.
Manly are also enduring a bumpy campaign, but they’ve managed to pick off bigger scalps than the Raiders have claimed.
Both teams are without key players for this match – Tapine starts his two week ban while Dylan Walker will be at home with his face healing slowly.
It’s really time for the Raiders pack to show the way – they can’t continue to be manhandled by the opposition in the middle of the field.
With the aforementioned boppers leaving next year it looks as though Canberra may move towards a smaller but more mobile pack, which is certainly a thing they can start exploring now.
Getting the ball over the advantage line is key here – where Boyd and Paulo tend to bend and drag defenders down with them smaller forwards should be trying to use explosive power to punch holes through the defence.
The Raiders face a pack laced with talent – Jake Trbojevic is definitely in the Blues sights, and is ably supported by the likes of Taupau and Thompson (Ed note: I still love you Joel).
A Mighty Fine Spine
I’m considering renaming this bit as “It’s the best we’ve got so quit yer grizzling” but as we all know the Raiders can do much better.
Play Havili a full 80.
Remind Blake not to try and grab the reins.
Garvey not Hingano.
Manly have DCE and Hodkinson to steer them, which doesn’t bode well for the Raiders if they’re on song.
Put Your Backs Into It
So much potential and talent, and then you get dumb things that end up with Rapana in the bin for 10.
When they do get it right you get things like Wightons pass to put Cotric in, Rapanas quick tap and 50 metre dash to score or BJ’s bizarre waltz into the in goal after the dragons thought they could do the reffing themselves.
Tom Turbo may be the fugliest man in league but it doesn’t stop him from being a threat at all times, especially when he singles out smaller or slower defenders.
The chances of the Raiders being finals bound shrink with every loss. At this point I genuinely think that they’ll simply start focusing on 2019 once Hodgson returns around round 18.
However 2018 has been full of surprises so far, so hey, let’s go with that.
Raiders by 4!