Raiders strong in defence…but struggle under fatigue
The Raiders went into halftime with a 12-4 lead, but that shouldn’t have been the case. The Green Machine were under immense pressure for the first 35 minutes of the first half and could have easily been three tries behind the Warriors. However, late tries to Croker and Tapine gave the Raiders a surprise halftime lead.
The enormous workload the Raiders had to endure meant that Ricky Stuart had to ring plenty of first half changes to give his men in the middle a breather. Known for their brain fades, the Raiders let a 22-4 lead slip with ten minutes to go, but exhaustion was the primary factor tonight. Certainly an improvement from early in the season.
Lolohea should be fullback
A coach wants energy from their utility and Lolohea duly provided that, linking with Shaun Johnson beautifully to bamboozle the Raiders defence. The turning point late in the second half occurred when Lolohea was introduced into the side against a tiring defence. However, his impact was such a significant boost to his side it remains confusing as to why McFadden is insistent on starting Fusitu’a at fullback when the Warriors couldn’t convert pressure into tries in the first half.
The focus may have been on the Raiders right edge for most of the season, but Croker has now scored three more tries than the prolific Rapana. Not only does Croker score tries, but he scores them when his team needs them the most. An inspiring asset for a captain to have. The 25-year-old is already the highest ever points scorer in Raiders’ history and is on track to be the league’s highest point scorer in two consecutive years.
Raiders a premiership dark horse but not among the NRL’s elite
The Raiders currently hold that coveted fourth place and on their day can beat any team with their powerful pack and potent backline. However, the fatigue shown against the Warriors was alarming considering they were coming off the bye. How will the Green Machine cope when their backs are against the wall playing the likes of the Cowboys, Storm or Sharks? Ricky Stuart has seen his side progress a lot in 2016 but haven’t progressed enough to be considered one of the elite NRL clubs this season.
Tries: Croker 3, Tapine, Leilua
Conversions: Croker 3/4
Tries: Leiluai 2, Vatuvei, Fusitu’a
Conversions: Luke 3/4