What a difference a week makes. Or in this case, 80 fantastic minutes of powerful and fun footy. I must confess in the minutes leading up to kick off I did not feel great, the years of suffering at the hands of the Storm having ingrained an automatic reaction in my system. Luckily for the Raiders they no longer know this sensation.
When I’m talking footy with Dan and our friends I often describe players as having an awakening, the “footy epiphany” if you will. It’s that moment where a player goes from just being a dude who stands somewhere and works as part of a team to being an entity who can often see two-three plays ahead. They no longer see the matrix simulation, now they see the code.
The Raiders have had this epiphany as a team.
They took to the new 6 reset rule like ducks to water, while the Storm came to grips with the fact that their era of ruck-wrestling dominance may well in fact be over.
The Raiders, along with the Eels, are the only team now unbeaten (ok fair point, the only teams to have won every game). I’m keen to see if the Green Machine can outlast Parramatta in this fledgling streak. The Raiders did not look like a team operating at 100% on Saturday. They weren’t shirking or playing poorly, they just knew how much pressure needed to be exerted to keep the Storm off balance. As Dan has said, this should terrify other teams.
Bailey Simonsson returns from his leg infection, meaning that the Raiders somehow now boast even more backline strike power (no offence Oldy). Look for him to go probing down the flanks, catching unwary Knights defence napping.
Michael Oldfield might be sitting this one out but it’s important to acknowledge his role as a competent stand in. He seems to have improved on his defensive reactions since 2019 and it’d be good to see him stick around a while longer.
THE VAUNTED OPPOSITION
The Knights were one of the lead three, but their somewhat scruffy but hard-earned overtime draw against Penrith has them falling back from the Raiders. Still they’re only third, so the Raiders should treat them with due caution. Mitchell Pearce has been named after he left the field early last round, while the Raiders will have the chance to tangle with their old teammate Edrick Lee. Kalyn Ponga returns from suspension.
This is one of those games that was once a cakewalk, but it’s clear the Novocastrians mean business in 2020. The Raiders have a real chance to extend a solid starting platform and I expect to see them apply defensive pressure to achieve their goals
Raiders by 12+!