The Apocalypse is upon us. Death and his fellow horsemen stalk the land, sowing terror and discord. The first of the other horsemen is Injury, swathed in bandages and sporting tape, wobbling unsteadily on his feet as he tries to pass the eternal concussion test. Injury’s most recent victim in Canberra was Sam Williams, his pectoral tear ruling him out for a minimum of five weeks. Then came Ricky mounted on his flea bitten steed, flipping the bird to all and sundry, laughing like some damned hell beast who has just ensnared a million pure souls. Finally, wreathed in the billowing clouds of incompetence and disappointment, Josh McCrone sits atop his tiny Shetland pony, his atrophied legs dragging on the ground.
How did it come to this? For the first four agonizing rounds of 2015 we watched in anguish as McCrone and Buttriss did everything in their power to undermine the hard work of newcomer Hodgson. We watched as Ricky repeatedly selected them, despite it being clear to everyone that they were not fit for first grade footy. And then, at the darkest hour, they were gone, seemingly banished to Mounties for eternity. Hodgson, Williams and Austin began to slowly form a proper spine, set plays appearing like the first buds of spring, 40/20 kicks bursting forth, broken field support play terrorising oppositions. Even when Williams suffered a collapsed lung we simply reinstated Cornish, enough to stop the ship from sinking whilst Williams recovered.
So much rage dwells inside me. If the Raiders somehow win on Sunday afternoon it will be miraculous. If it is through the efforts of McCrone it will be even more miraculous. I mean Pope Francis would have to canonise that shit.
There are a few things already in the Raiders favour. They’re still 10th, whilst the Panthers have been in free fall all the way down to 12th. The Raiders have conceded few points in recent times, meaning that their for and against is still ok(ish). Both they and the Dragons sit on +6, while the higher ranked Sharks are on -24. At this point both competition and match points are vital.
Big Three – Raiders
Blake Austin/Josh Hodgson: These two will have to play like the devils of hell are chasing them. Hodgson will surely need to take control of the majority of the kicking, whilst Austin will need to find a way to crack the Panthers forwards wide open. I have no idea who will manage the passing/directing. Given McCrones propensity for Falcons let’s hope it’s not him.
Edrick Lee/Jordan Rapana: With Waqa sidelined these two will need to shoulder a massive amount of work in the Raiders red zone. They’ve continued their good deeds of getting early metres in the set, and given how poor Leilua was against the Sharks they may need to cover even more territory.
David Shillington: Shillo once again was the big forward that could, bopping 154 metres from 18 carries along with 31 tackles in 55 minutes. Every forward needs to take heed and run at least 110 on Sunday.
Big Three – Panthers
Josh McCrone: If it’s anything like previous efforts it’s gonna be atrocious. Mistimed passes fired either into teammates heads or over the sideline, mistimed set plays being poorly executed, kicks sailing out on the full. And any other kind of nuffy numptiness he can concoct in 80 minutes. Do not be surprised if the game ends with Baptiste at half.
Jamie Soward: Soward is not McCrone, so therefore the Panthers are already leaps and bounds ahead of the Raiders.
James Segeyaro: The battle of the nines will be quite interesting, as Segeyaro is definitely one of the speedier hookers in the comp. Expect him to start poking around holes opening up later in both halves.
You Wot Mate?
Why Ricky, why? Yeah it was grim once Sammy tore his pec, but there was still the faintest glimmer of hope that we could sneak into the 8, maybe cause a bit of alarm and then bow out in rd2 at best. Canberrans are forgiving to a point Ricky, you may be about to hurtle past that point at warp speed.
The Raiders put in a freakish solid 80 minute effort to win after McCrone is knocked out by a self-inflicted Falcon off of the Panthers goalpost Mitch Cornish scores three tries and seven try assists in NSWcup and leads the Raiders until the end of season, dragging them to an honourable sudden death loss to INSERT TEAM HERE.