For the Raiders finals start early. Sudden death is upon them, and to falter now is to face an imminent return to the nation’s capital and two weeks quarantine, before possibly joining the rest of us in lockdown (I would not hold it against them if they spent family time in Queensland if they finish outside the eight).
The Warriors are much like Canberra – patchy all year, courageous at times, diabolically bad at others. They’ve spent their entire season here, with home and family across the Tasman. They know they’re done after round 25.
To discount their desire to win would be fatal. The Warriors have been something of a thorn in the Raiders side over the last few years – Canberra either put them away with relative ease or struggle to match the physicality of the Warriors.
There’s been a few changes in regards to personnel – Corey Harawira-Naera is obviously gone for the season, while Matt Frawley returns in place of Williams. Corey Horsburgh returns for a bench spot after his dogs cameo, and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad starts from the pine again in his presumably gradual return to full minutes.
If there’s one Warriors player the Raiders need to be wary of it’s Reece Walsh. The NZ fullback can produce some ridiculous magic close to the line and the Raiders goalline defence will need to be spot on or they’ll find themselves leaking tries.
Shift-ball seems to be an effective strategy to see out the regular season. All sides are weary after an intensive year of v’landysball and if you can get the big units from the Warriors shifting around more than they’d like you’ll be able to wear them down in 25-30 minutes.
With the game being played at 6pm on Friday it won’t be long before we know whether the Raiders have retained the right to aim for a finals berth, or if they’ll be watching the top 8 from the couch and prepping for next year.
Raiders crush the Warriors 60+ because I’m allowed to have the odd footy victory fantasy in 2021!