After a couple of seasons of blistering-hot form with my annual fearless predictions, I think I’ll come falling back to earth with an almighty thud this year.
Canberra’s NRL season of woe has sunk to new depths after being hammered 54-18 by a rampaging Warriors on Sunday at Canberra Stadium.
The Raiders were wearing Hulk-inspired jerseys as part of Marvel Super Heroes round, but the only person who would have been blowing a gasket during the 10-tries-to-three romp was their coach Ricky Stuart.
There were no excuses this time around for his abysmal outfit.
Conditions were perfect, the Warriors were missing their star halfback Shaun Johnson, and they were playing at home.
In fact, the Warriors hadn’t tasted victory at Canberra Stadium since Stuart was running around the paddock as halfback back in 1997.
And didn’t they break the drought in style.
Manu “The Beast” Vatuvei will haunt the dreams of Brenko Lee for weeks to come after picking up a second-half hat-trick against the youngster.
The Warriors might have thumped the Raiders 54-12 back in round nine at Eden Park, but the humiliation of this loss, in front of a home crowd of about 7,000 frustrated fans, will sting the Green Machine so much more.
Rubbing salt into the Raiders’ wounds, their two-hardest working forwards failed to complete the game with injury concerns Shaun Fensom (knee) and David Shillington (shoulder) leaving the field.
Just like the week before, the Raiders started strongly with back-to-back sets, before releasing the pressure while on attack with a simple error.
The Warriors immediately made them pay in just their first set with the footy, going 90 metres before Sione Lousi exploited the Raiders’ brittle left-edge defence to score in the fourth minute.
English fullback Sam Tomkins scored just nine minutes later, before Konrad Hurrell finished off a try that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition to extend their lead to 16-0 at the 29th minute.
If the floodgates hadn’t officially opened, they soon did, Ben Matulino and then Sam Rapira scoring to help their side take a 28-0 lead into halftime.
Hurrell was taken off the field at halftime as a precaution due to a hamstring complaint, but that didn’t slow the Warriors’ momentum, Rapira picking up his second four-pointed three minutes after the break.
From there it was just all too easy for the Warriors, Vatuvei picking up a hat-trick, while Ngani Laumape crossed in the 58th minute.
The Raiders picked up three late consolation tries through Josh McCrone, Paul Vaughan and Reece Robinson to deny the Warriors from overtaking the sixth-placed Cowboys on the ladder on for-and-against.
Meanwhile the Raiders remain second last – not far ahead of Cronulla on for-and-against.