The Wests Tigers started well but capitulated badly to a rampant Raiders outfit at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Here are five things we learned from the clash.
Croker makes a successful return
Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker could have been forgiven for a quiet return against the Tigers after a dislocated knee back in the Harvey Norman NRL All Stars game, but the 26-year-old proved why he is the heart and soul of the Raiders line-up with a dominant display in his return game. Croker scored a try and kicked 7/8 goals to go with 151 metres. His 18-point tally now takes him to 144 points from 16 appearances against the joint venture - his highest opposition in the Telstra Premiership. In the last three games against them alone, he has 56 points to the entire Wests Tigers' 22 in a dominant sign the Green Machine have the wood over Jason Taylor's men in all areas of the game.
Raiders forwards deliver
After two weeks of being manhandled by the Cowboys and Sharks, the monstrous Raiders forward pack finally delivered in front of their home fans with the addition of Dave Taylor adding an even further boost late in the first half.
Josh Papalii led the way for the home side with over 200 metres down the left-edge, as he and seven other teammates broke the century barrier to force a further 70 tackles from the visitors. In total the Raiders notched up an extra 500 metres compared to Jason Taylor's side, with only skipper Aaron Woods and front-row partner Ava Seumanufagai bending the line in the nation's capital.
Errors galore as Tigers struggle with points
Despite the Raiders running in two late tries, the first half was dismal from both outfits with 15 errors in the opening half killing off any momentum either side was trying to build. It never got much better for one side – the Tigers – who completed at just 57 percent the entire game with 16 errors in total.
After starting the game strongly for the second week in a row, the visitors fell asleep in the final 10 minutes of the opening half and enabled the Raiders to skip to a lead, in the same fashion the Panthers did in Round 2.
The Raiders started to build nicely and the points began to flow with an even spread of possession – something the Green Machine have lacked in recent weeks against two quality sides in the Cowboys and Sharks.
Concussion debate continues
Fresh after Knights coach Nathan Brown renewed calls for the NRL to introduce an 18th man for concussion-related injury, the Tigers were dealt with three head-knocks and were down to one man on the bench at full-time. Back-rower Sauaso Sue was the first to leave the field and succumb to a second head clash straight after the half-time break, before Chris Lawrence and Kevin Naiqama were ruled out of the contest at the backend as the Raiders began to take full advantage of the Tigers' injury woes.
Rapana continues try-scoring feat
It must not take much for Raiders winger Jordan Rapana to get excited about playing the Tigers, with the Kiwi international's double at GIO Stadium taking his tally to nine tries from five appearances against them. The recently re-signed Rapana blew the game wide open in the second half when he set up Jack Wighton for the Raiders' fifth four-pointer of the day, and was instrumental on the right wing, chalking up over 210 metres.
This article first appeared on NRL.com
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