Not switching off
The Raiders didn’t take their foot off the pedal as they bullied the Rabbitohs throughout the contest. All but four of the Raiders players ran over 100 meters except for Priest (98), Austin (64), Sezer (69) and Lee (64). In attack, the men in green completed 31 of their 36 sets in what would have pleased Ricky Stuart.
However, the biggest bonus for Stuart would be that the Raiders didn’t allow the Rabbitohs a sniff. When John Sutton fooled the defence with a dummy to score shortly after halftime, the Raiders kept defending wholeheartedly before turning it on in attack. If the Raiders can replicate this mentality against better opposition, the Raiders can be contenders come September.
Add Elliot Whitehead into the mix and the right edge of the Raiders is as threatening as any edge in the NRL. Outshone in recent weeks by Croker, Lee and Papalii on the left, the right edge scored five tries and assisted three. Leilua and Rapana terrorised Johnstone and Crichton as the pair consistently found them napping in defence.
The next fortnight will show how far the Raiders have come
The Raiders have won their last five matches but face the Sharks and the Storm over the next fortnight. The Green Machine haven’t faced a test such as this since they travelled to Suncorp Stadium in round 14 and were found wanting.
Although the Raiders have moved to third on the ladder, the Sharks, Storm and Cowboys remain the favourites for the Premiership. The Raiders have improved a lot since their 40-16 thrashing by the Sharks in round 7 but have they improved enough?
Rabbitohs roster a shambles
The Raiders may have been good, but the Rabbitohs were woeful. A knock on by Musgrove in the 3rd minute of the match summed up their afternoon. The prop was passed the ball but wasn’t paying attention as the ball struck his hand and went forwards.
The return of Sam Burgess gave the South Sydney faithful plenty of optimism at the start of the season, but the loss of Issac Luke has hit the Bunnies hard. The Bunnies lacked creativity and McInnes didn’t provide anything from dummy-half while Cook was only marginally better.
The injury of Roosters-bound Luke Keary is a blessing in disguise for Michael McGuire as he tries to work out what to do with his underperforming side. Walker could move back to five-eighth and Johnstone to fullback. The forwards also need to stand up for the Bunnies, with their lack of quality exposed at ANZ Stadium.
IN THE SHEDS
Luke Keary – Hamstring
Edrick Lee – Left calf
Luke Bateman – Possible Concussion
Tries: Whitehead 2, Rapana 2, Lee, Leilua, Wighton, Croker, Austin, Soliola
Conversions: Croker 7/10
Conversions: Reynolds 0/1