Round 3 finds the Raiders undertaking their first raiding party of the year as they travel up to Newcastle to lay siege to the embattled Knights. The Raiders defied the odds and football gods last week, stealing victory from the Roosters and making their record 2 of 2 at home no less! (Take that 2015!)
The win wasn’t without attrition however, with Lachlan Croker sustaining a shoulder injury, Shaun Fensom being banished under the concussion rule and Joey Leilua being binned, placed on report and subsequently suspended.
Despite the carnage both Croker and Fensom will return for rd3, while Brenko Lee takes up Leilua’s place in the centres.
Another observation is that this is now two weeks in a row where the Raiders must play a team which has been mauled by the Bunnies the proceeding week.
Battle of the Big Boppers
Josh Papali and Paul Vaughan were the true standouts of the engine room last week. Papa was unstoppable close to the line, and his winger style dive to score in the corner one of the games delights. Vaughan was at his usual best, including one run where no amount of defenders could pin him down.
For the Knights their best performing forward was ex-Raider Sam Mataora. Needless to say, victory for the Novocastrians will require much greater input from the likes of Jeremy Smith and Korbin Sims.
Your cue, Maestro
Canberra’s temporary halves had a very mixed bag against the Roosters, particularly young Croker, although you can argue he never got a chance to right the ship in the second half. Williams however did bag the winning point. I personally believe that until Sezer and Austin return that we must include Hodgson as a half, as he currently is the true playmaker for the Green Machine. That 40/20 kick was pure brilliance.
For the Knights alarm bells are already ringing, with neither Hodkinson nor Mullen taking control so far. For the Novocastrians to even dream of winning these two need to take command in both offense and defense, or they’ll find themselves torn to shreds by the Raiders.
Ricky was honest in his assessment that last year the Raiders would’ve lost the Roosters match, and that it was a game won mostly on courage rather than any sort of cohesive team skill and effort.
Nathan Brown is not having a good start, and desperately needs a win to get the naysayers off his back.
Lucky Numbers Player Bingo
#4 Brenko Lee #3 Dane Gagai
#9 Josh Hodgson #7 Trent Hodkinson
#11 Sia Soliola #8 Sam Mataora
#16 Paul Vaughan #10 Korbin Sims
The Raiders loved to travel in 2015, and with two home wins under their belt this year they should be full of confidence. They do however need to be wary of a Knights outfit that is wounded and yet to fire. If the Raiders can score early and often they can blow out a good lead, but seeing how my vision of a 10 point win is yet to pass I’ll put that up again.
Raiders by 10!