Can the Canberra Raiders stumble into the finals?

Ron Swanson Roar Guru

By Ron Swanson, Ron Swanson is a Roar Guru

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37 Have your say

    While experts are claiming the Raiders’ season is over, it is still possible the Dragons, depleted Cowboys and Manly could all get a case of the yips, seeing Canberra do a Steve Bradbury.

    On paper, it looks like the Raiders can plan a trip to Bali in a fortnight’s time, but let’s look closer at the final two rounds.

    This week, the Cowboys are away to the Wests Tigers, who have improved in leaps and bounds over the last six weeks, and the resurgent Knights have given them the desire to win each week to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. Meanwhile, North Queensland have an alarmingly high injury list after a brutal fortnight against two physical packs, in the Storm and Sharks. This game will be a toss of the coin.

    Manly should have all but eliminated the Raiders last Sunday, but suffered a shock loss to the Dogs. Now the Sea Eagles face a Warriors side with an extra two off, who are also boosted by the timely return of Shaun Johnson, making what also appeared to be a certain two points another danger game. If it’s a dry track at Mt Smart this Sunday, expect as many tries as last Saturday night’s Bledisloe clash!

    The Dragons face the toughest challenge, with an away trip to face a red-hot Panthers, who know doubt will be reminded all week of the flogging the Dragons inflicted on them in the opening game of the season. Add to that Matt Moylan gaining more match fitness and the forwards starting to fire, this clash could spell the end for St George Illawarra’s 2017 campaign.

    As for the Radiers, they are at home to the Knights, where the Canberrans could run up a score to improve their for-and-against.

    Moving ahead to Round 26 and the Cowboys finish the season at home to the Broncos, Manly host the Panthers, and the Saints face their bogey team, the Bulldogs, at ANZ Stadium. Manly with only a +23 differential are the most vulnerable if they crash to their fourth loss in five this weekend in Auckland, though the Cowboys also boast only +26.

    As for the Raiders, they are away to a Storm side that will in all likelihood rest some big guns, having secured the minor premiership. Plus, Canberra have a decent record against Craig Bellamy’s men.

    So Roarers, is it still possible a few twists and turns await the final makeup of the top eight, or are the Raiders and Saints’ seasons as good as over?

    The New South Wales State of Origin team for the 2018 series remains a mystery, with new coach Brad Fittler facing plenty of selection headaches. So we want you to tell us - and all your mates - who should start for Blues in Game 1 with our team picker.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • August 23rd 2017 @ 8:07am
      Birdy said | August 23rd 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Being an optimist and the tigers and titans fighting it out for the other trophy, I’ve to jump onboard the raiders and panthers for the big one.
      While admitting that I am a sucker for the underdog I truly believe either team could pull off the impossible.
      Can the Pennies youth shine a year early and can the raiders steam roll all before them.
      Never say never.

    • August 23rd 2017 @ 9:11am
      Andrew said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Moylan is actually out this week. But it sounds like May will play at 6 (not Cartwright), so I don’t think they will slow down at all. If anything, they are stronger with the May/Cleary combination.

      Raiders are paying $9 to make the finals. I took some of that. I like their chances. As you say, the Tigers are improving and you have to think the Warriors win at least one game to end the season. The Raiders could easily have won on Sunday against Penrith and the narrative about their form etc would be totally different. So they are playing well enough. I could actually see both the Dragons and Raiders making it and the Cows and Sea Eagles dropping out,

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 9:26am
        Jim said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        The warriors are truly woeful. I don’t think they’ll win again this year – a broken club.

        My dragons are playing fairly ordinary football, but weren’t bad against the Broncs with a lot of sick guys from the flu playing. Still think we will miss the eight though.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 11:50am
          Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          No doubting the Warriors are well and truly the seasons biggest flops. Can they muster up some fight against a struggling Sea Eagles, I do doubt it highly but stranger things have happened. Johnson and Matulino big in’s for the underwhelming Kiwi side but with the WC selectors looking on will a few individuals lift their game?

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 11:48am
        Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        Yeah Andrew I noticed after I submitted my article to the editor the Moylan gaffe was too late to recall. I like young May, someone like the Warriors should chase IMO. They need some competitors, pests like Jimmy Maloney etc.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 23rd 2017 @ 9:35am
      Bunney said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      You’ve nailed it Ron – it isn’t probable, but it is possible.

      The Panthers proved last weekend the Raiders are pretenders, so it doesn’t matter if everything does fall their way. Also can’t see them beating the Storm, unless we see a return to the Broncos and Roosters ploy of the early 00’s of resting half the team in the final round seeing as though the minor premiership is all wrapped up

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am
        Andrew said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        How did the Panthers prove the Raiders are ”pretenders”? They scored four tries apiece and had to play their best game of the year (by some margin) in order to scrape home.

        • August 23rd 2017 @ 9:53am
          Birdy said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          I didn’t watch the game . Apparently the raiders had a bad 1st half, so to come back the way they did in the 2nd proves to me they will put a scare in for the finals.
          Melbourne don’t lile playing them either

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 11:57am
          Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Raiders had the penalty count and how many sets of 6 in the final 10-15 at the Panthers line without any success? They tried barging their massive units through the Panthers line time and time again without any success. They lack a plan B, a short kick on tackle 3 or 4 in goal, sides have worked them out and since the start of that Viking Clap what is their success rate of home wins??

          • August 23rd 2017 @ 12:17pm
            Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            The Raiders introduced the Viking clap against the Eels late in the 2016 season. Since they introduced the clap they’ve won 7 and lost 7 at home.

            Have to agree the Raiders looked a bit clueless when they had a few sets close to the try line in the last 15 minutes against Penrith. And couldn’t believe it when they took the tap 40 metres out in one of their final sets when they could have kicked for touch chewing off 20 metres and saving 2 tackles. I’m inclined to agree with some commentators that the Raiders play dumb at times. Hodgson has had a few brain explosions when he’s kicked on the 3rd tackle close to the try line or taken some other dumb option when it needed Sezer to roll the ball into the in goal. The halves are still a work in progress which seems crazy to say after they’ve been together for two seasons. They are also lacked intensity in defence against the Panthers – giving Moylan, Cleary and Mansour far too much latitude and time with the ball. They needed to come out in a line and snuff them out.

            The Raiders are still a chance of making the 8 if results go their way and you never know given how Manly, Nth Qld and St George are limping towards the finals. But the Raiders need to show a lot more energy in defence if they are to get over a spirited Knights side on Friday and face a daunting task away against the Storm the following week. If results go their way if sets up a mouth watering match up against the Storm in the last round of the year. I don’t think Bellamy will be taking any prisoners. He’ll want to play his best team possible in what will be a finals like atmosphere. The Raiders will have to be desperate and lift their intensity five fold if they want to win against the Storm. This is all conjecture of course – if a couple of teams above them jag a win on the weekend then its all over for the green machine and they will be stuck thinking about what should have been. Lost of work for them to do over the off season.

            • Roar Guru

              August 23rd 2017 @ 1:58pm
              Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              Thanks Geoff I suspected the home form since the start of the Viking Clap had proved an average home record. Do you think the fans are expelling too much cheer before a ball is kicked? Do they start it again throughout the course of the game like the Warriors do with the bongo drums, which I suspect is now a recording, I could be wrong.

              I doubt Bellamy would risk his big guns with nothing to play for in the final round and the finals a week away regardless of results this wknd. It could prove dangerous for the Raiders who might get complacent all the same. Fingers crossed we still have 4 sides in contention in Round 26. If Manly and the Cows win, it’s all over red rover!

              • August 23rd 2017 @ 3:15pm
                Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | August 23rd 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                No worries Ron – the Viking clap is still pretty awesome though I suspect it pumps up the opposition as much as it does the Raiders. So I’m not sure it has much of an impact on results. Someone blows the huge Viking horn next to the scoreboard then drummers from the defence forces in their full gear signal the start off the clap in front of the Mal Meninga Stand. I just think it adds a bit of atmosphere. There’s a bloke on a drum that starts it up again every now and then when there is a bit of a lull in the game but its nowhere near as loud as it is at the start. I actuall really like the Warriors drums – gives the game a distinctive Kiwi feel – and I like the cowbells that are used at home matches for the Storm. I’m in suppoprt of anything that adds to the occasion and gets the crowds going.

                Have to say the Canberra crowds have been very good this year – regularly around 14 to 16,000 when you would be lucky to get 10 to 12,000 in recent years. And the crowds have improves despite some pretty ordinary performances at home on their home deck. But they need to improve the half time entertainment which is virtually non existent after they got rid of the cheer leaders. They need to bring back that machine that sends up spiralling bombs and random blokes from the crowd makes themselves look silly trying to catch them. Actually Jack Wighton should stay out on the ground at half time and get a bit of extra practice at chatching bombs!

                Will be interesting to see how Bellamy reacts with his choice of team for the final round. I don’t know what his record is in terms of resting players after they’ve won the minor premiership. If I was coaching I think I’d want to keep the winning momentum going and I don’t think he would be doing any favours for his old club. I guess there are arguments for and against resting players. I know the AFL have got rid of this temptation to clubs by giving every team participating in the finals a bye on the weekend before finals start.

              • August 23rd 2017 @ 4:24pm
                Gary Harvey said | August 23rd 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

                How about some sort of beer olympics at half time between raiders and knights fans? Many years ago they did something like this at half time in a footy game in Darwin. Was a pretty high standard as well.

            • August 23rd 2017 @ 5:34pm
              Big Daddy said | August 23rd 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

              The Viking clap.
              Is that some sort of disease.

          • August 23rd 2017 @ 1:24pm
            Andrew said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

            Not saying they are the best team in the comp, but the Panthers didn’t prove the Raiders were pretenders. Yeah Seizer and Austin are far from the best creative halves in the comp but they had scored thirty points plus in each of their last three matches. And in terms of barge over tries, the Panthers had two of those on the weekend and they are supposed to be the entertainers…

            • Roar Guru

              August 23rd 2017 @ 2:01pm
              Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

              Nothing to do with barge over tries only frustrating the Raiders went to that play way too often in the final 10-15 mins targeting young Cleary who was outstanding defensively. Either winger one on one with Mansour I’d back to score on 9 out of 10 plays, never eventuated. Raiders play dumb, dumb football at times and don’t play to their strengths.

              • August 23rd 2017 @ 2:24pm
                Harry said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

                I reckon also that even though it’s revitalised both players, Austin and Sezer swapping sides has removed one of the Raiders’ best attacking weapons close to the line, namely Sezer’s grubbers into the in-goal for Croker.

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 11:55am
        Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

        As mentioned Bunney I have no doubt Bellyache will rest quite a few from the final round, it’s his old club too, he may feel obliged to give them a leg-up. The Raiders for all the pre-season talk and Ricky’s moaning off referee calls, have only themselves to blame. The form of guys like Leuilua and at times the halves has really tapered off at various stages of the season. Only the wingers have been outstanding week in, week out in my opinion.

        Have they missed the boat at claiming a title after last season’s heartbreaking loss to the eventual premiers and this season’s slide out of the 8?? Doesn’t Ricky usually expire around season 3 or 4 as head coach??

        • August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Birdy said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          I think canberra has lacked a plan b for a few seasons.
          I love watching a big mobile forward pack strut their stuff.
          The raiders demolished the sharkies a few weeks ago which made me think, maybe they could do it this year.
          Admittedly the sharkies were at the start of their slump as well.

          Just to start a code war?
          I watch the monster sides, raiders,warriors and doggies and sometimes think the way they get run down , run around and totally worn out is probably what would happen if you threw some of the union sides into the NRL for a season.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am
      Joe said | August 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

      Big games this weekend for all those teams listed. I like the Manly’s chances against the Warriors even with the return of Shaun Johnson. Dragons v Panthers is going to be a good game as well as Tiger v Cowboys as they both determine top 8 positions. Cowboys will have to beat Tigers rather than rely on a win against the red hot Broncos next week. I think both Manly and Dragons will win at least one game in the final two rounds so it all depends on Cowboys winning this weekend. I do think the Raiders will win big this weekend especially with the injuries to Brock Lamb for the Knights who was responsible for a lot of their points and plays. I also think Bellamy might rest key players against the Raiders. He has named a full squad against the Rabbitohs this week to ensure they get game time but since he has also brought up the issue of having a week off before Finals like the AFL I think he might be thinking of resting players in that last round to avoid injury….especially if the Raiders are still in it and desperate for a win. So many possibilities in this last two rounds, what and exciting finish to the regular season.

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 11:59am
        Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        Agree Joe and you wouldn’t want to risk your side facing Papali’l and Co a week out from the finals especially Billy after their last clash!

    • Roar Guru

      August 23rd 2017 @ 10:13am
      Jason Hosken said | August 23rd 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      Gday Swanners – Agree big time, shaking in my Manly boots. Last weekend’s loss to the Dogs might be the final nail. Hard to believe the same side ran in 32 unanswered points v the Roosters the other week.

      That said, it is possible Manly has already won enough to make the finals. I’d take it, they’ve had a top season compared to what most thought before the season kicked off.

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 12:19pm
        Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Hosko, the ex-roadie for Things of Stone and Wood, good to hear from ya old son. Your mob have been a tipsters nightmare all season long. They are either up by 20 at lemons or down by 30 at lemons. No close games it’s either a blow out either way.

        You’re right they may just limp into the 8 along with the Cows with the Faders and St Merge to miss out. It does appear that will be the way it all pans out but you never know, the final rounds usually throw up some massive upsets, I mean who could ever forget the Gold Coast almost knocking off the Bears at Seagulls Stadium in 95 and almost costing them a spot in the 8 in the final round.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 12:48pm
          Jason Hosken said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          Do you reckon Stone and Wood’s will back flip the Dogs? Makes sense.

          95, seems like yesterday. Bears only had themselves to blame, would’ve won a couple of comps if they’d held onto Noely Solomon.

          • Roar Guru

            August 23rd 2017 @ 2:10pm
            Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

            The beer or the band??

            Noel Solomon, one of my fave footballers, had so much time on his hands in attack, never given a decent run by the bang average Barney Rubble lookalike Peter Louis. Did he join Jason Martin at the Cowboys where they would of struggled to get a gig over the class pairing of Dunneman and Spina (another ex-Bears No.7).

            I think had they got the best out of Dallas Weston and Darren Fritz they would of knocked off your mob and the Dogs that year. Fritzy didn’t like the club bike pants he had wear and wasn’t allowed to wear his old red and white Steeler special’s that Rod Wishart gave him!

            • Roar Guru

              August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm
              Jason Hosken said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

              The band, that’s all the punters care about…and the Mike Whitney band.

              Played cricket with Noely, handy all-rounder. Always bowled unplayable leggies in the nets but resorted to seam-up on Saturdays. Slept like a railway sleeper, trying to wake him on game day was often a 3 hour affair culminating in busted doors.

    • August 23rd 2017 @ 11:01am
      KenW said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

      I can’t see it for the Raiders.

      They need to win both their games (including the Storm) and have 2 of the 3 teams above them lose both. Each of those 3 teams has at least 1 game they will go into as a warm favourite so to have two of them winless in the last two rounds is unlikely.

      Not impossible, stranger things have happened, but the Raiders are more in realm of ‘mathematical chance’ than a genuine one in my books.

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 12:21pm
        Ron Swanson said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        To be honest Ken the Raiders have really been in that Mathematical chance saloon for the past month or so…somehow like Steve Bradbury still in with that slim chance, only just!

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 3:54pm
        JohnB said | August 23rd 2017 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

        Technically, it’s not right that 2 of the 3 teams above Canberra need to lose both. It is certainly correct that Canberra needs to win both (and that is what may make this all academic). However, if St George wins one and loses one (certainly possible) it only takes one of NQ or Manly to lose both (either of which is possible) and you have 3 teams on 28, and doesn’t for and against then decide who is 8th? Whichever of NQ/Manly has lost both is then out (they already have worse for and againsts than St George and Canberra, and they would only get worse still with 2 losses) and it would be between St George and Canberra.

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