It’s pretty dark right now, and not just because Winter has come to the nation’s capital. The Raiders are experiencing turmoil not felt since the dissolution of the OG Green Machine, a thing now exacerbated by social media and the 24/7 news cycle.
So rather than write the same old vaguely predictive stuff I want us to take a look back and remember the joyful things that this side, in all it’s guises of the last few years, has made the fans proud to bleed green.
A CAPITAL MAULING
Round 8 2016, Canberra Stadium.
Before they made the shift to being a defensively focused side the Raiders excelled in outright blistering attack, no more evident than in the 2016 game where they mercilessly piled on the points against a forlorn Tigers outfit.
Lead by Josh Hodgson in peak conductor mode the Raiders ran in tries like the Tigers were made of tissue paper. Rapana hauled in 4 tries as he and his other footy half BJ Leilua decimated the Tigers left edge defence.
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
Round 23 2016, Canberra Stadium.
Another 2016 game, but this time marking the Green Machines renewed focus on defence. The Storm had proven to be one of Canberra’s bogey teams for well over a decade, regularly piling misery on the Raiders and their fans.
Cracks had started to show in Melbourne’s dominance; the Raiders had beat them soundly in Melbourne during the Blake Ferguson era (Ed note: Rob just call that the late Campese era). But this was an expression of dominance, a recognition that Canberra could stand up to the best.
POP IT LIKE IT’S HOT
Finals Week 1, 2019.
Fast forward to 2019 and a purring Green Machine pulls the finals short straw, travelling to Melbourne to face the Storm. Chaos ensued before the kick-off, with BJ Leilua getting blinded by an errant firework. Despite this, the Raiders managed to score first, and keep the Storm try-less until the second half.
The Storm finally gained the upper hand, and seemed on track to take a week off.
Then BJ proved his worth.
With less than 4 to go Leilua cleaned up a loose ball (shouts to Joey Taps for a big hit on the Fox) and dropped the gorgeous flick pass to John Bateman who promptly planted the ball for a try.
The preliminary final 2019
Having advanced straight to a home preliminary final the Raiders battled a determined Rabbitohs for a coveted grand final berth. Both teams battered each other for the better part of 80 minutes, the score staying locked until Wighton scored a freak try off a half dropped grubber.
The Bunnies managed to get CNK binned, but the Raiders held on, and in the 75th minute in front of me, Dan and thousands of other screaming fans Josh Papalii received a cut-in pass at the ten metre line and charged
over Damian Cook through multiple defenders to plant the ball under the cross bar.
REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED GREEN
The semi final 2020
They beat us off the back of one of the worst reffing decisions in rugby league history, but in 2020 the Raiders had the near ultimate revenge when they terminated the Roosters tilt at a mythic three-peat.
The Raiders had already stunned the reigning premiers earlier in the year, when a post-Hodgson ACL spring the surprise upset of the year and bashed the Tri-colours into submission in Sydney.
The two sides crossed paths again in the semi-finals and the Raiders set about crushing the Roosters dreams. Canberra’s forwards monstered Sydney for much of the first half before the game opened up and became a tit-for-tat skirmish. The Roosters tried to reel Canberra in but ultimately fell short going down 22-18.
The Raiders would bow out the following week against Melbourne but some of the pain of 2019 had been eased in a classic finals win.
There are many other great moments from the Milk over the last 7 year stretch, from barnstorming individual efforts to scintillating set pieces, too numerous to list here.
UP THE MILK! GO THE GREEN MACHINE! CARN CANBERRA! RRAAIIDDEERRSS!!!