The game that every Raiders fan secretly dreads is once again upon us, which is kind of weird as the Raiders have probably been the more dominant side over the last few years. Twice we hammered the Storm on their home turf, and last year produced an upset when Paul Vaughan bagged a try in the last moments of the game. That’s not to say that this Sunday will be a walk in the park, but Raiders fans should expect a certain level of effort, provided the Raiders from last weekend run out, rather than the rabble that went down to the Roosters.
Big Three – Raiders
Paul Vaughan: Vaughan has been by far the best forward in the last two games, being the only one two break triple digits in metres against the Roosters and then running a double century against Manly. Vaughan will be essential in battling the methodical Melbourne pack.
Sam Williams: Williams took his first shot at first grade in 2015 by the reins, steering the game around the park with ease. More often than not his kicks found space, and his attacking kicks within Manly’s red zone terrorised the hapless defence all afternoon.
Josh Hodgson: I was umming and ahhing about whether or not to make Waqa the third choice when I remembered Hodgo’s sublime 40/20 kick. To have the presence of mind to take that extra step back for a massive gain spoke volumes about Hodgson’s ability as a playmaker. He also laid on 34 tackles and a try assist, and his scoots from dummy half helped keep the opposition guessing.
Big Three – Storm
Marika Koroibete: Many folks are keen to see MK go head to head with fellow Fijian Sisa Waqa. Koroibete has been in super form for the Storm, scoring tries like nobody’s business whilst running crazy metres in the process (214 against the Warriors).
Cameron Smith: Duh.
Mahe Fonua: 1 line break, 1 try assist and 1 try against the Warriors is pretty good for a winger. That’s better stats than Slater, Smith and Cronk combined in the same game.
You Wot Mate?
NRL.com still making out as though this away trip is a picnic for Melbourne. Sure the Raiders haven’t actually won at home yet, but if they can bottle the vibe and effort from last week and then boost it to match the Storm’s professionalism they have a real chance of getting the job done. Hodgson is going to have to try and break the 60 minute barrier, because Buttriss is simply a slow non-McCronish version of McCrone.
Raiders grind out a solid 80 minute display and ruin the Storm’s holiday- Buttriss is so bad he is also relegated to Mounties (who win 6 straight under the power of Luke Page) allowing for Baptiste to prove he is not as crap as either McCrone or Buttriss in round 7.