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Are they the Raiders or the Faders?

Roar Pro
5th May, 2009
5
1168 Reads
Trevor Thurling in action during the NRL Round 18, St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders match at WIN Stadium, Sydney, on Sunday July 13, 2008. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville

Trevor Thurling in action during the NRL Round 18, St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders match at WIN Stadium, Sydney, on Sunday July 13, 2008. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville

I’ve written and re-written the opening paragraph of this column half a dozen times. The first version was too angry. The second version too gloomy. The third and fourth versions weren’t very good and the fifth version was too optimistic.

I hope that this version will be the balanced one.

The Canberra Raiders finals aspirations are finished for season 2009 (now, imagine just how gloomy version two was for that to sound more hopeful).

With eight rounds complete, the Lime Green are in fifteenth spot on the Premiership Ladder and have already wasted three winnable home games. With a minimum of 26 premiership points to make the finals, the Lime Green would now need to win nine of fourteen games to play in September.

This seems unlikely at best.

Whether it is bad luck, bad refereeing or simply bad management is irrelevant now. The fact is that two wins from eight games is not enough.

Sure Canberra have been unlucky on numerous occasions this year (Taniela Tuiaki’s try in week one, the sin binning of David Milne in week three, losing players to in-game injuries during almost every single match). But unfortunately they don’t give out premiership points for most unlucky team.

One of my mates, a Canberra native, always refers to the Raiders as the “Faders” a nickname hearkens back the early days of the club in the 1980s.

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In that era (and I speak here only through hearsay as I was a small child at the time), the Raiders were notorious for starting well but finishing poorly. Hence, The Faders (very clever huh?)

It seems like those bad old days may have returned.

Thus far in season 09, the Raiders have been the first team to score on five occasions. They have also been leading at halftime on five occasions and were leading until the 40th minute against the Bulldogs.

Conversely, the Lime Green have only been the final try scorers on two occasions and one of those was the 80th minute ‘consolation’ try against the Roosters.

Only twice have the Raiders scored more than four points in the second half and overall the Lime Green has been out-scored 94 to 47 and have only won a single second half all season (and that was against the even more woeful Sharks).

I think we’ve found our problem.

I have no idea what the solution is (which is one of the many reasons why I don’t have David Furner’s job) and certainly all of the in-game injuries will have contributed to the poor second half performances.

However, if the Lime Greens are to get back on track, they need to stop being the Faders and become the Raiders again.

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The Good
I have said this almost every week for eight weeks now, but once again there was plenty to be happy with for Canberra fans. The forwards continue to lay the foundations with strong ball running and menacing tackling. Unfortunately, the backs don’t seem to be able to build anything on those foundations

Glen Buttriss was again excellent and the team looked sharper when he was on the field.

Joe Picker had a much improved game after starting and Bronson Harrison demonstrated why there was no debate about his inclusion in the New Zealand side to play the Kangaroos on Friday evening. Justin Carney was a little bundle of energy throughout the evening. And what a sight to behold it was when Carney, standing a mere three and a half feet tall, was able to leap above the pack to bring down a chip kick and score

Off the field there was good news with Terry Campese, Joel Monaghan and the mighty Alan Tongue getting selected for the Country Origin team. Hopefully we will see all three turn in strong performances and bring that back to club level.

The Bad
I don’t want to repeat myself but I’m afraid I have to: where are the fifth tackle options? Why, oh why, does it seem like every time the Lime Green have a fifth tackle in the opposition red zone they inevitably hoist up a kick in the general direction of Joel Monaghan?

Once the opposition know that a certain play is on every time, it gets very easy to defend. It is only truly freakish athletes like Israel Folau that can prosper despite the heavy telegraphing of their set moves.

Canberra must develop some options and it starts with getting faster play the balls.

Now, I understand that many teams have mastered the art of slowing the play ball (realising that the officials are reluctant to penalise inside the red zone), but until Canberra get the ball in either the half back (whoever he may) or Campese’s hands more quickly on a consistent basis, they will continue to find it difficult to score.

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The Ugly
The ugliest aspect of the loss to the Panthers was the bay full of away fans that were seated right near the seats my friends and I occupy. With all due to kudos to the gentleman who brought in the trumpet, I will say that the Panthers fans were about as obnoxious a group of away supporters as I have encountered.

I’m afraid even my notoriously rigid discipline slipped when one particular moron shouted “there goes your 72-12,” in reference to the Panthers’ humiliation last season.

I’m afraid, dear readers, that I couldn’t help myself and yelled back at the lout: “where does it go exactly? It’s still in the record books and you still have to live with it. Oh, and it was 74.”

Mr Sports Verdict
No mucking around this week. I give the team five Victors. Improvement needed.

Next Up
This week the Raiders have a much needed bye, but four players will turn out for their nation or place of origin.