Ricky, what the hell are you doing? The Raiders found some form of mojo against the Bunnies, almost free of the pressure of making the Finals cut-off mark. Then, because it’s the Sharks, you panic and go back to making the same horrible team selections that have plagued the Green Machine all season long.
Why have you picked Priest again Ricky? How is it that it takes you more than 21 rounds to come to the conclusion that some of us reached before the end of last year? If there is one player who has truly stagnated this year, possibly even devolved, it’s him. From awful defensive reads to constant penalty concessions he really does have it all.
Why have you played Bateman at lock Ricky? Why? Couldn’t you shunt Whitehead to the bench, move Tapine into an 80 minute lock role and minimise the amount of time that Bateman and his buddy (Priest) spend on the field.
In fact, Ricky, why are we not seeing Royce Hunt in Priests bench spot? In what little we’ve seen of him so far we can see that he is still green, but definitely more determined and more able to make an impact than Priest is.
These last games are a chance for you to rotate the entire pack, and see who fits where and when. Don’t just keep playing the same tired hand week in week out. Players like Soliola and Lima are not long for the world of football, and the Coal train will depart the station permanently at year’s end.
You’ve spent all year buying cheap forwards from all over the joint. Dukawaqa flew in, and then promptly vanished. Knight was announced alongside Oldfield, and hasn’t been heard from since? Makahesi Makatoa? Bill Cullen? I know they’re here Ricky, their profiles are splashed across the Raiders page.
The thing is Rick, is that none of those four from the paragraph above can be anyway worse than Priest. Heck, I long for the days where Lui wasn’t broken. Bring back Sorenson. Do anything please, other than the same selections that are killing the Green Machine in rotation.
The Raiders had their moments against the Bunnies, points where it looked like the vision and determination of last year was trying to shine through from under the layer of over-wraught, over-thought football.
The pre-season will be quiet next year Ricky. We all laughed when the Knights beat us this year in that sole trial game, and look where we are now. Rebuilding and reformatting can start now, and the sooner it does the sooner the Raiders have a chance to be a strong side come 2018.
The most disappointing thing about these wins over fellow cellar-dwellers is that they are quickly erased by games against true finalists. The Raiders will have to go above and beyond their best this year if they’re to topple the reigning premiers, a team who first gave the Green Machine an inkling of future woes all the way back in Round 2.
The Sharks boast one of the strongest and most effective forward packs in the comp, capable of bending the line and then offloading to extend their sets deep into enemy territory. To defuse this the Raiders will need to demonstrate a defensive temerity not yet seen from them in 2017.
If there’s a narrative for 2017 it’s the Raiders avoiding their strengths whilst trying to erase their weaknesses. It’s an angle which is clearly unsustainable, which is why the Raiders must get back to dominating the middle with quick play, which in turn provides more space, better attack and less defence.
Raiders When Austin takes a snap at field goal, hits the uprights and Cotric comes through to scoop it up and score!