Many pundits were predicting the Raiders to be one of the most improved teams in the NRL, but the Green Machine have surpassed even the most biased expectations. After not finishing within the top eight since 2012, the Raiders secured a top four berth with their victory against the Parramatta Eels. Nobody knows how far this inexperienced and exciting team can go this season but their best years are ahead of them.
Eels electric start
The Raiders entered this match on the back of two victories against the Storm and Sharks, but it was the Eels that looked like the premiership favourites in the first half. Semi Radradra and Bevan French ran the defence ragged as both scored tries. The returning Radradra ran a whopping 223m in a performance that looked like it could secure an upset win.
Raiders miss Hodgson
It is said that you notice a quality hooker when they aren’t playing. Hodgson wasn’t wearing the green jersey for the first time since his arrival at the club in 2015. The rake’s service from dummy-half wasn’t replicated by Clydsdale, and the effervescent Baptiste was nowhere near the mark – although the latter did bring energy into the attack.
The Raiders knew what they were doing when Hodgson pleaded no appeal and took the week suspension now, rather than points. They can’t afford not to have the Englishman on the field come finals.
Raiders loss, Bulldogs gain
Brenko Lee scored four tries and could have had five if he cut his toenails pre-game. The young outside back continued his rich vein of form by scoring the equal second highest number of tries in Raiders history.
Although his cousin Edrick is a good player for the Raiders, Brenko’s more reliable hamstrings could make him a more valuable asset down the years. The Bulldogs were certainly smart in recruiting the youngster who has spent a majority of the season plying his trade in NSW Cup.
Canberra Raiders 28
Tries: Lee 4, Croker, Soliola
Goals: Croker 2
Parramatta Eels 18
Tries: Jennings, Radradra, French
Goals: Gordon 3