With the dust from Origin now finally settling 16 teams are gearing themselves for the run to the finals. For some, it’s a chance to cement their position in the top 8 and bag a home ground advantage come September. For others it’s time to outmuscle their midfield peers and snag a coveted finals spot. For some, it’s all about dignity.
The Raiders and Knights stand firmly in the second two categories. The Raiders currently sit 11th on the ladder and boast the second best points differential of the bottom 8 (-7). The Knights meanwhile languish in 15th, on -84. The Raiders have an enviable run home, the Cowboys being the only obstacle that looms large. The Knights have to play at least four of the current top 8.
If the Green Machine can find form and more importantly, consistency, they can mount a campaign to secure perhaps 8th or even 7th come the first week of September. The Knights meanwhile will be scrambling to avoid the dreaded spoon, their stellar start now a distant memory, their only win since rd4 coming against fellow cellar dwellers Wests.
Big Three – Raiders
Jack Wighton: Wighton has been MIA for quite a few games this year. After a great start the performances seem to have tailed off, although he was a scintillating standout along with Rapana and Lee in the Cowboys game. When he connects with Williams great things happen.
Sam Williams: Williams must be desperate to get back on the field and make up for the 80 minute brain fart that was the Warriors match. He demonstrated against the Cowboys that he has the skill and composure to run a perfectly controlled kicking game, providing the perfect foil to Austin’s livewire style.
Josh Papalii: Papa was given short change by several news outlets prior to Game III; his response was to work off of Thurston’s magic to terrorise the Blues defensive line and bag himself an Origin try. Expect him to carry this energy into Friday night’s game.
Big Three – Knights
Jarrod Mullen: Finally returning from injury, and not a moment too soon. The Knights have rotated three others through in Mullen’s absence with dismal results. Mullen can have a huge effect on the Knights fortunes, but only if his forwards clear some space.
Beau Scott: Scott will be keen to erase Wednesday night’s loss to Qld, and he’ll be instrumental in getting the Novocastrians moving forward. If the likes of Scott, Sims and Smith can muscle up they have a chance.
Dane Gagai: After an exciting result at state level Gagai will be ready to help salvage the Knights season; unfortunately his club is a far different beast compared to his state. If the forwards can’t make space he may see little of the ball, and he’ll have to be ready for the Raiders hungry fringe attack.
You Wot Mate?
I don’t gamble. Sorry. But I do respect the integrity of an honest wager. You know what is not an honest wager? The Cash Out option that every sports betting agency pushes these days. The whole point of a bet is to stake a certain amount of money upon a hunch/belief/intuition etc. Not to get halfway through and realise that you got it horribly wrong, take your footy and go home. The irony of the marketing around this garbage idea is that you’re a manly blokey guy if you pike early because you’re losing. Pathetic.
The Raiders win a tight contest and slowly start to build for September. The Knights start making space in the cutlery draw for a new spoon. All betting agencies are investigated for dubious activities after it transpires that Cash Out is actually a money laundering scheme.