Look at the photo below this sentence:
Out of the 17 players that were victorious on Sunday over the Panthers, McCrone is the only one seated during the team song. He seriously looks like a player who doesn’t want to be there, which is fair enough considering that (a) he was comfortably cruising in NSWCup in the Mounties squad and (b) his return to first grade was yet another ho-hum performance in a long chain of ho-hummers.
That Ricky should once again select him for what must be considered a pivotal clash against the Cowboys is a sure fire indicator that Ricky sees things very differently to the rest of us.
You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the Cowboys being a pivotal game for the Raiders. By all accounts the Raiders have already lost – NRL.com has the Cowboys winning by 20 points, and the betting market is stacked against the Green Machine. People hurriedly scribbling out top 8 predictions are doing it on the assumption that out of their last 6 games the Raiders can only win 5.
Essentially, for the Raiders this match has no become a nothing to lose scenario – they simply need to pour every ounce of concentration, effort and execution into it, even if it is touted as a glorified training run for the following weekend.
If they can somehow pip the Cowboys they would bag a bonus 2 points, in the sense that it is 2 points no one expects them to have. Or at least it was until 5pm Tuesday afternoon when the rd21 team lists were announced. There, like a massive pimple, sat #7: McCrone.
In defence of McCrone (or should that be McProne?) he didn’t do too much damage on Sunday, even managing one acceptable kick. One can’t help feel that Mitch Cornish, bizarrely banished to Mounties, could actually be a better fit alongside Austin and Hodgo and maybe even give the Raiders a sniff of a chance of the win.
Big Three – Raiders
Shaun Fensom: Fensom was at his usual solid best against Penrith, running 162 metres off 17 carries and completing 39 tackles. His support play leading up to his try was fantastic to boot.
Josh Hodgson: Hodgson demonstrated once again that he may actually be not just the Raiders best buy of the year but also best import of the year. His craftiness at dummy half, especially for Vaughn’s second try, is great to watch.
Paul Vaughan: Speaking of which, Vaughan was back to his best, bagging two tries, one a superb display of individual strength and the other a perfect combo with Hodgson. He ran 142 metres off 16 carries and broke the line twice. Good times.
*Homework bonus – Go and watch the match highlights again, specifically Leilua’s dummy half dummy for Rapana’s try and Edricks’ 90 metre “I’m not even running, heart rate is at 80bpm” effort.
Big Three – Cowboys
Jonathon Thurston: Screw you JT, you ruin all my fun footy whenever you appear, but if the Cowboys are still in it after the Raiders are I’ll probably be backing them.
Jake Granville: Granville carved the hapless Eels like so much smoked ham, effortlessly poking holes all through their defensive line. 191 metres off 14 carries, 3 line breaks, 2 try assists and 1 try for himself. Party time indeed.
Jason Taumalolo: Pretty much should be named the Terror from Townsville, running 149 metres with 2 line breaks and 2 tries. The Raiders will need to shut him down to stand a chance.
You Wot Mate?
How the fuck is Shaun Kenny-Dowall fit to return to training? Fuck you Roosters, NRL and violent dickheads.
All 16 Raiders players put in a fine effort but ultimately fall just short. Refs continue to show confusion about what a knock on actually is.