At the start of the season these two teams were miles apart. The Raiders were coming off a tough but successful run in 2020, while the Broncos were still trying to find their footing in a league where they are no longer a perennial powerhouse.
2021 put an end to that gap. Injury, discipline and general chaos have utterly crippled the Raiders. What should’ve been a game between a finals contender and a cellar-dweller is now simply two groups of players struggling to salvage some pride and avoid the spoon.
The Raiders remain their own worst enemies on and off the field. Not a week goes by (or should that be bye?) that some off-field drama or leak takes another chunk out of Canberra’s withering spirit. The non-stop leaks are a constant thorn, and some of the hot take fixes are spectacularly mind-boggling.
TANGENT: Dan’s already written about this, but if you think Matt Dufty should be brought in and CNK shifted to centres
you should head to your nearest emergency department for an immediate head trauma assessment I respectfully disagree. Charnze is easily in the top 6 fullbacks in the game and is almost beyond worth. Dufty is an attacking number one who is also a defensive turnstile.
To be brutally honest with you the Raiders should refrain from splashing cash until they have a better picture of the club’s long-term outlook. There’s a host of young talent to be put into play, and it could be beneficial for the Raiders to disconnect from the current market hype.
I’m doing away with subheadings for the rest of season, as they seem to be a fruitless endeavour when the team rinse-repeats the second half trend of knee-capping themselves.
Matt Timoko joins the Raiders chameleon backline, as Bailey Simonsson shifts to fullback (the Aekins era thankfully seems to be over). Josh Papalii and Joe Tapine make their respective returns from suspension and injury.
There’s a very simple game plan for Canberra – win the middle and hold the ball. Brisbane can be equally suspect to folding under pressure, and the Raiders need to find a way to ignore the game clock (and half time).
Brisbane have gone semi-retro with their selections. If you’d asked me if I expected to see Albert Kelly and Karmichael Hunt in the NRL at all in 2021 I would have considered you a crazy person. Yet here they are at 6 and 7 for Brisbane.
I really don’t know what else to write at this point. The game will go ahead at 7:30 on Saturday and we’ll either enjoy a rare win or regroup to lament yet another botched 80 minutes. Personally I’d like to see more juniors elevated to first grade – at least then losing would be a learning experience of some value.
Who knows, maybe Wighton will return from Origin with a mid-season epiphany in hand, or maybe 2021 is just our annus horribilis..
Raiders to win simply by not being the Broncos