The Roar
The Roar


ANALYSIS: Origin backrower bingo explodes as Young stars in Raiders win, Hopgood scores and Big Red gets into big blue

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13th May, 2023
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Canberra’s rise off the canvas has continued with a stirring 26-18 win over Parramatta, taking the Raiders to a fifth on spin and to within a win of the summit of the NRL.

It was epic, breathless stuff at times, from the early softening-up period that spilled over into an old school blue to the frantic finish. The Raiders wrested control through a three try blast either side of half time that took them to a lead they would never relinquish.

Corey Horsburgh did his Origin hopes no harm through his performance, but might have to sweat on a potential ban following a sin bin after throwing a punch at potential NSW pick Ryan Matterson.

Junior Paulo, too, might worry after being cited for a cannonball tackle. Joseph Tapine, the victim of his tackle, went off with a potential MCL injury but returned later in the game.

Stuart was perplexed by the binning of his man, but not Paulo.

“I’m a mate of Junior’s and I don’t want to add any extra exposure to it, but I had a player (Tapine) go off over that,” he said.

“Corey Horsburgh pushed a player in the head, Corey got pushed in the head as well when he was being held by the jumper. 

“(Latrell) Mitchell last week pushed a player in the head twice last week and was allowed the play the ball, we got a player sent to the bin.


“If you’re going to keep changing the interpretations around like that, it’s just crap. You can’t change interpretations week to week.”

Bailey Simonsson also found himself on report for a hip drop, but avoided the bin, while Shaun Lane left in the first half with a hamstring injury.

The Eels will again look at a game that they had ample opportunity to win, but didn’t.

Brad Arthur will file this alongside last week’s loss to the Titans and the early season trio of defeats to Manly, Melbourne and Cronulla as incidences where his side were at least the equal of their opponents, but failed to make it count.

They were without Mitchell Moses through concussion and missed him badly. Though Matt Timoko scored a late try to seal the result, this was the fifth time in 2023 where goalkicking tilted the scoreboard towards their opponents late on and forced Parramatta to chase the game.

“We were physical, we were tough, nothing went our way,” said Arthur, who also questioned the officiating.

“It’s very hard to come down to here to Canberra when you get a 10-3 penalty count against you. I don’t know what more I can say to the boys as I thought we were stiff. I never say anything about the refereeing, but I think tonight we were hard done by.”


Origin backrower bingo

One week out from selection, this was the time to make a move for the Origin candidates on display, and four of them play in the same position. 

There was a Blue and a Maroon on both sides, with Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young facing off with Ryan Matterson and J’Maine Hopgood.

Young is more of a moments players, and picked the perfect time to display that characteristic. He pulled off two huge plays: one a trademark kick chase to give the Raiders their first lead of the night; the second a one-on-one steal that jolted momentum away from the Eels just after they had made a break. 

With a big opening in the NSW back row, Young has done as much as he possibly can to convince Brad Fittler that he needs to be there. 

Ryan Matterson didn’t do badly in his audition, either. Fittler is unlikely to pick his forwards based on their kicking ability, but after Isaah Yeo’s assist yesterday and Matto’s tonight, he’ll have plenty of it.


Matterson laid on a try for Hopgood with a smart kick to the post pad, and more prosaically, got through a power of work as both an edge and a middle. He’s got 17 jumper written all over him at the moment.

On the Queensland side, it was another banner night for Corey Horsburgh. He did ten minutes in the bin, but one wonders whether throwing a punch at a New South Welshman is the sort of thing mightn’t actually strengthen his case for a Maroon jumper. 

Aggression is a given, but beyond that, the impact of his return was startling. In the period either side of the break, Horsburgh was the best player on the field as Canberra scored the points that ultimately won them the game. It’s that ability, particularly with bench spots up for grabs, that will impress Billy Slater. 

If Slater opts against Horsburgh then it’ll be Hopgood who gets the gig. The Parra lock got his first in the NRL and added to his reputation as one of the best offloaders and ball-players in the comp in 2023. If Queensland want guile, he’ll be their man.

Power meets power

Parramatta and Canberra could look at each other, Lex Luther and Superman style, and whisper the famous phrase: ‘We’re not so different, you and I…’


Both favour a power game, based on big middles and offloads, with a predominantly running five eighth as their principal threat allied to a controlling, kicking half. Granted the Eels were without theirs tonight, but the evidence of this evening is that the Raiders are the better exponents of that style at the moment.

Last year, in the finals, this was barely a contest. Parra trounced Canberra and went on to make the Grand Final.

This time around, it was Ricky’s Raiders who won the middle. Josh Papali’i and Joseph Tapine were dominant, assisted by Horsburgh and Young. 

Arthur might point to the absence of Reagan Campbell-Gillard through injury, but as a collective, his pack were second best tonight. The best of the Eels came from their backline, with Clint Gutherson again excellent.

In truth, these two aren’t far apart at all in standard and, at full strength, this might have gone differently.

But form matters. The Raiders are used to winning at the moment and found a way to do it, whereas for the fifth time this season, the Eels scored at least 18 points and lose.


The draw has been markedly different for Parramatta, but they can’t complain about that anymore. They’ve had plenty of chances to win. They haven’t.