The Rugby League world spins very quickly these days and there is no better example of that than the way the Canberra Raiders are playing in 2020.
A couple of weeks ago the Canberra Raiders were the team to beat. They looked a cut above most other teams with many suggesting they looked like a better side than the one that made the 2019 NRL Grand Final. When you took at look at the expert NRL Tips, they all had the Raiders doing well. Everything seemed on track for the Green Machine.
Then in round 4 the Newcastle Knights towelled up the Raiders 34-18. The Raiders then followed that up with an extremely unconvincing 14-6 win over the Wests Tigers. These were two teams the Raiders were supposed to account for easily, but their performance have been two of the worst from the Green Machine in recent years.
This week sees the Raiders face off with the Manly Sea Eagles, a team who is also coming off the back of an unconvincing win agains an opponent they were supposed to beat well. These are two clubs that don’t put in poor back-to-back games all that often, so we could be in for one hell of a showdown this weekend.
The Sea Eagles as always rely on Daly Cherry-Evans to guide them around the field, and it must be said, he has been great once again this season. The Trbojevic brothers have also been in good form this season, although it must be said that Jake has been a little more inconsistent than you’re use to seeing.
The Sea Eagles main strike weapons might be getting the job done, but they’ve been let down by some of those around them at times this year.
On the other side of the field, the Raiders last two matches may have shown a few cracks in their side, with hooker Josh Hodgeson looking terrible at times and English halfback George Williams proving to be little more than a good ball runner. Jack Wighton has been in great form, but Josh Papalii has yet to find the consistency that saw many rate him the number one prop in the game at the end of 2019.
The Sea Eagles will be boosted by the return of back rower Curtis Sironen but the loss of Martin Taupau and Moses Suli will hurt the clubs chances of a win.
The Sea Eagles go into this game knowing a loss could see them potentially fall out of the top 8 and lose contact with the top sides in the competition, they they have it all to play for. Meanwhile the Raiders will be looking to cement their place in the top 2, and put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack.
This should one a great contest between two tough sides looking to shake off some poor form. I’m leaning towards the Canberra Raiders coming away with the victory, but don’t count out the Sea Eagles. They are a quality side and know how to get the job done if an opponent isn’t at their best.