Sport is a fickle entity at best. Just a month ago Raiders fans were still entertaining fantasies of a late eight run. Now they are terrified that the dreaded spoon could loom up from below and drag them down screaming for mercy.
During the preseason 2015 looked to be some sort of sporting oasis, its shimmering intangibility promising both riches and ruin. No one knew quite what we were getting. It would appear that after 24 rounds we’ve actually just gotten 2014 with slightly better flavouring.
If 2014 was the year of rock bottom then 2015 was surely the year of slowly learning how to walk again. Possibly the best lesson learned by the club and its fan base this year is that good recruiting is just as valuable as a good development system, if not more so.
Hodgson, Soliola, Austin, Waqa and FPN have all proved, for the most part, to be adept signings. While the Sydney media wet themselves over Austin on a weekly basis it is Hodgson is undoubtedly the platinum plated signing of 2015. Of all the club noobs his form firmed the best over the year, and if Sezer and Austin can gel early next year they’ll team with Hodgo to form a lethal trio.
Despite the gains however large patches of 2014 hung around like the stench of roadkill – Brainfart choices in plays, poor defensive attitudes and the occasional “phoned it in” performance, such as the Titans game last week, all prevented the Green Machine from getting on a much needed roll.
Big Three – Raiders
Jarrad Kennedy: Kennedy was a spark of life in a team of no shows last week, bopping out 161 metres off 15 runs, along with 32 tackles and a line break. He outran Boyd, Vaughan, Shillo, Papa and FPN – a sterling 80 minute effort.
EVERYONE ELSE ON NOTICE – Yeah, I know, it’s big three, but it’s my piece and I can do what I want. Frankly, if the Raiders ever wish to see the finals again, they’ll need to stop submitting performances like last week’s effort. I realise that they were pretty devastated after the botched ending to the Manly game, but that is the difference between those who do and don’t play in September. Finals bound sides would have come out firing.
Big Three – Panthers
Tyrone Peachey – The Panthers fill-in #6 ran 150 metres off 15 runs, which is huge for a five eigthth (even the running kind!) He also managed to conjure up a line break and 33 tackles.
Jamie Soward: If the Panthers want to win Soward will need to fire on all cylinders – At the top of his game he is a true puppet master, conducting the ball all over the joint.
James Segeyaro: Segeyaro was quiet last week, which is all the more reason to be wary of him this week. A nimble broken field player, watch for him to start poking around the ruck once the forwards start to tire.
You Wot Mate?
That Channel 9 tv deal. It looks pretty good, I mean who doesn’t want four nights in a row of live footy. As always, there is a catch, namely the atrocious quality of the Ch9 broadcast. Surely I can’t be the only one who has noticed that the image starts de-interlacing during intense on field action, making for a truly eye-aching viewing experience. For Ch9 to really win big they’re gonna need to up the HD ante or be found wanting.
The Raiders get out of jail despite the refs and Shillo’s penchant for poorly timed offloads. Luke Bateman plays a full 80 minutes, scores two tries but gets blanked by Ricky post match because he can’t remember Bateman’s name.