Raiders Rumble! Raiders vs Sharks Round 18 Preview

BY ROB

Origin is done, and now all eyes refocus on the relocated NRL. All teams south of the border (and north of the other border) have been shipped up to Queensland, and there’s every chance they could see out the season up there much like the AFL did last year. That scenario is still some months away, but if there’s anything we know right now it’s that covid-related timelines are very unpredictable.

In the present though the Raiders have some work to do. Their finals chances remain flimsy, and with some daunting opposition in impending games they may not get much better. Finals aside the Raiders need to find some winning consistency. They took the win over Manly in what was supposed to be a gimme for the Silvertails – other sides won’t roll over so easy, nor be as susceptible to being bashed throughout middle.

Stuart has named pretty much the same side from last week, the exceptions being Papa and Wighton returning from Origin duties. The general effort of those in green was vastly improved last round and we’re all hoping they carry it into this round.

I for one want to see Tapine given the minutes he got last week. With Papa out he really stood up and lead the way. His impact through the middle folded the Manly line in and helped tire opposition defenders.

Xavier Savage looked the goods, and with Simonsson out at least three more weeks I look forward to watching him get to grips with life in the top grade. His debut performance was enthusiastic, and while he still has some power/strength imbalances against more developed players he clearly has a passion for the craft of a custodian.

The Sharks currently sit in 8th spot, but given the nature of this season there’s every chance they could now out in favour of someone like the Knights. The Raiders in 11th need a good mix of wins and luck to rejoin the finals race. The Raiders managed to outlast them back in the early rounds, but that was a very different Green Machine.

The Sharks have an interesting roster that they built over the last two years. There’s plenty of pace in that backline, and young players like Will Kennedy and Connor Tracy that the club has been patient with over the last few years. There’s plenty of points in them if the Raiders defence doesn’t aim up. There’s plenty of power I. That pack too, but defensively there’s an advantage to gain in the middle. Toby Rudolph leads the competition in missed tackles. It’s another game where Tom Starling can be used as a weapon, and it’s another opportunity for Savage to find some space to use his space around a collapsed ruck.

The Goldcoast hub brings some favourable weather into the game, and hopefully the Raiders can find a somewhat more expansive style of footy. Frawley and Williams’ pinpoint grubbers were great last week and I’d like to see Wighton join Williams in generating pressure like that (rather than dying on the last in the corner).

There’s not much more to write really. There’s a strong chance round 26 might be Canberra’s last outing this year, and to be frank we could probably all benefit from a break of what has mostly been a miserable campaign.

Still, ruining the Sharks weekend would be ace.

Raiders by a rampant 30+ because I’m allowed to dream, damn it!


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