In round 9 the Viking longship began to list dangerously, with several men lost overboard. By round 12 they’d managed to right the vessel and drag a few of their group back on board. But just as they seem to have everything under control, the familiar black dorsal fin appears.
They’re gonna need a bigger boat.
The Raiders meet the Sharks just as Cronulla starts welcoming back key figures – Wade Graham was instrumental in Cronulla’s methodical dispatch of the Eels last round, and with him back on the edges the Sharks go to a whole other level. The Raiders have been lucky enough to welcome back their own edge talisman in Bateman, and these two players transform their respective teams in ways that coaches and fans can usually only dream of.
If there’s one thing the Raiders can draw strength from it’s the fact that they’ve managed to keep three teams scoreless in 2019 – the Titans, Eels and now the Tigers. While it’s clear the Tigers were not a very functional side in that loss it’s still a rarity for a team to be scoreless across eighty minutes and a lot of that had to do with the Raiders excellent scrambling defence. Canberra will need to draw on these prior efforts if they are to hold the Sharks out. One play in particular is the Fifita close range crash over, where the Sharks big man hits the defensive line at speed inside the ten – the Raiders need to make sure they’re able to wrap him up with defenders underneath, but also be wary of the Sharks using him as a decoy to allow an outside player to stroll through untouched. Tricky times.
On the offensive side of things the Raiders best chances currently come through broken play and they’re much more effective launching medium range raids than they are at set pieces inside the twenty. Unfortunately this may be the best modus operandi until the return of Hodgson, which means the Raiders should look to exploit more dummy half runs from the likes of Havili and Starling.
Head to Head
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad vs Matt Moylan. CNK is currently one of the top custodians in the game and is enjoying a breakout season, his hard work in yardage and cool bomb defusal being a key part of the Raiders efforts early in sets. Moylan is now essentially a veteran of the number 1 jersey and his skipping sidestep can often catch fatiguing defenders unawares.
Green Star Award
Bailey Simonsson ran in 195 metres off 23 carries (avg 8.47m per carry) with 56 metres coming post contact. While his 10 tackles might seem low he managed to put on one hell of a try saver, earning himself the Green Star in the process.
In previous years the Origin period has been something of a boon period for the Raiders, when they could prey on teams weakened by injury and rep duties. Those opportunities have lessened this year, and the Raiders will have to roll up their sleeves and play some special footy if they’re to triumph over a Sharks outfit that has found its groove.
Raiders by 4!