“We’ll get better mate.” That was the simple message that Mick Mantelli had for me after his side suffered their second heavy defeat to the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon.
It was a tough game for our boys who struggled defensively against a much bigger outfit, short on troops already due to injuries they lost their most influential forward Scott Doyle before half time and it was never going to be an easy task from there.
Coach Mick Mantelli will welcome back the injured duo of Jules Webley and Jared McIlwrick this week.
Webley will return at lock and McIlwrick will start in the second-row in place of Scott Doyle who has had his welfare placed first after a sickening head collision with New Zealand fullback Brad Abbey’s knee.
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Ricky Garard will continue to show just how versatile he is when he starts at hooker this week. The Raiders utility has already played fullback, centre and in the halves during games.
The Raiders won’t have to deal with as much heat as their older NRL compatriots as the game against the Eels will be played at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville.
It will be another big challenge for the Raiders who come up against the second best side in the competition this year.
The Eels at times have played in devastating fashion, but our boys have shown at times this year they can certainly mix it with the best, and in a competition so unpredictable week in and week out it’s quite possible the Raiders could pull off an upset.
They showed at times against the Warriors last week that if they knuckle down in defence and work together they are more than capable of holding sides out. In a game where they were blown out their defensive effort from early in the first half is what the Raiders should be aiming to replicate this week if they come under pressure.
Multiple times the Warriors looked like they were going to score only for the Raiders to hold their much bigger counterparts out. As can be said about their NRL colleagues the NYC side is exciting when they hold onto the ball, and that will be one of their key areas the side will be looking to improve on.
With too many errors hurting the Raiders play and quality of possession that they had last week against the Warriors.
Player to watch – Lachlan Hurst
Hurst has proven to be a tremendous finisher this year with the lightning quick winger crossing for an impressive 20 tries in 20 games.
The Leeton Galloping Greens junior is third on the top try scorer’s list, which is not a bad standing for a player in his first full year in the NYC and playing in a team which is situated in 13th spot.
With Parramatta’s defence amongst the staunchest in the competition, Hurst’s ability to make the most of any half chances could prove vital.
This match will provide the boys with the challenge of snapping a poor road record which currently sits at five consecutive losses. With the sides last road win coming in round 8 against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
The match against the Parramatta Eels will be played on Sunday at Ringrose Park with kick-off from 1:30pm.