BY ROB, ON NGUNNAWAL AND NGAMBRI LAND
The Green Machine are on a roll. In classic Raiders fan form we’re all standing around trying to acknowledge it without looking like we’re acknowledging it. As Han said to Chewie: “I don’t know, fly casual”. But even the most skeptic green-eyed person must admit that the Milk have something going on.
As Dan often points out it’s not 100% perfect football, but rather a broiling mass of confidence, 17 players slowly but surely synchronising into one footy hive-mind.
There were moments of sheer brilliance against the Eels – Fogs 40/20 that speared across the turf, Rapana’s hang-time combining with Timoko’s slip-catching, try-scoring ability. I could go on, you know.
But now we must look forward. Canberra need to bank points now. The autumn days grow shorter, and more often than not you have to leave five minutes earlier in the morning to defrost the car. A certain state vs state annual squabble looms large on the calendar, with several Raiders suddenly looking like they could be candidates this year.
But club footy is our staple diet. We need it, crave it, want it. So now we turn our gaze to the turbocharged elephant in the room.
Tom Turbo is not at full capacity. That notorious hamstring continues to plague him, moments of unease and hesitation present in his game where he should be engaging top gear. He’s hurt. Manly knows it. We know it. They know that we know, you know?
Expect a lot of green traffic to be sent Trbojevic’s way. Expect bombs with chasers. Expect isolating sweeps and kicks in behind the line. Manly have historically relied on two players the last few years, and if you can nullify a broken Turbo it suddenly becomes a lot easier to deal with DCE.
Team list thoughts
The 11 day protocol comes for us all, eventually, and this week it came for Zac Woolford. The Germ’s medically mandated benching means that Danny Levi gets to make his way back into the 17 after that shocker of a broken jaw. Tom Starling shifts up to starting hooker, and I for one really hope he replicates the form he showed when he had to fill in for nearly 80 minutes after Levi’s mandibular mangling earlier this year.
But apart from these two changes Sticky has stayed loyal to the players who got it done last week. Continuity is a big part of the confidence this squad has, and Stuart surely knows he needs to bed that down before any rep selectors come a knocking. Change will be forced on them then.
Jamal Fogarty vs DCE. The Manly skipper is renowned for his short kicking game which he routinely deploys to break stubborn try-line defence. Fogarty meanwhile is going from strength to strength – his aforementioned 40/20 and general long kicking game compliments a short kicking ability that is usually on target. Both men are also capable ball-runners and it’ll be an intriguing contest as they try to get the upper hand.
The other positional tussle is that of lock forward where we find an emerging origin aspirant facing off against a veritable origin veteran. Horsburgh is hotter than Hansel right now, pumping out huge metres, adding starch to the defence and generally being all round awesome. Jake Trbovejic is the bedrock of the Manly forwards, a consistent player always ready to dig in where needed.
The Raiders currently sit in 7th with 14 comp points (6 wins) and another successive victory would go a long way to securing a spot in the 8. The Everest challenge of South Sydney looks large in rd13, but Canberra first needs to knuckle down and deal with a wounded but still dangerous Manly outfit. If they can replicate the effort and enthusiasm of the Eels game they’ll be on track for 6 in a row.
Raiders by 10+!
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If Canb win this one every player should be carried off by the fans! this has an ominous,ugly feel
Manly have size & height across the park,
Raiders have no-one to fill in/in the backs
Manly by 18 plus