The last four weeks have not been the kindest to the Green Machine. Hit by key injuries they lost three of their last four games but have somehow managed to stay 4th on the ladder. They easily lost the first half of their game against the Roosters before mounting a plucky attack in the second half and were unlucky to come up short against the Bunnies in a much more competitive effort.
The good news is that one of those key assets is returning to the side for this weekends clash with the Cowboys. After a dreary start to 2019 Joseph Tapine makes his way back onto the bench, giving the Raiders possibly the most solid interchange they’ve had all year.
By any metric this is a lopsided game, but I must give the warning that any team can discover form on the day. Having said that it’s hard to see how the fumbling Cowboys can find a way to get one over the Raiders, who despite their win/loss record of the last four rounds are at the top of the second tier, or bottom of the top tier
depending on how optimistic you are. These two teams already played back in round 4, where the Raiders comfortably took the win 30-12.
In terms of the 17 nearly everyone who had a go last weekend gets a go this weekend, except for Sebastian Kris who had a bit of a go but not enough to exclude Tapine’s formidable go from the team. The Cows meanwhile are still tinkering with their line-up which continues to turn in average performances.
The Raiders have a real chance to notch up a solid block of wins over the next five weeks before they take their bye, starting with the Cowboys, then the Dogs, the Tigers, Sharks and finally the Eels before the round 16 break. Victories while some of the more Origin afflicted sides are struggling are key.
Head to Head
Josh Hodgson vs Jake Granville – One hooker searching for long term improvements in his game, the other desperately trying to prove his worth before Origin selectors make their choices. Hodgson has had a somewhat quiet start to the year but showed last week why he is still in the top tier of rakes in the comp. His deceptive style of ball distribution often catches ruck defenders in two minds, and he and his big runners are inches away from unlocking those decoy runs close to the line. Granville meanwhile is improving, but has oscillated between good to disinterested for much of the year to date. The Raiders need to mark him keenly as he’ll be looking to build up his Origin CV.
Green Star Award
Bailey Simonsson take a bow. Against the Bunnies Simonsson took up the mantle of what being a big Raiders backline is. 16 runs for 128 metres (8mpc), with 37 of those metres in the post contact range. While there’s still some work needed around defence and ball security Simonsson has shown that he can help get the Raiders out of their end.
The Raiders have a real chance here to get back in the winners circle and start reinforcing their position on the ladder. The Cows can be a threat but they’re yet to string a good run of wins together.
Raiders by 14!