Rep round is done and it’s back to the land of club footy! For Raiders fans, with two losses in a row, it’s nowhere near time to start fuming, but a whole lot of frustration is understandable.
Comparing the 2016 Raiders with what we saw against the Bulldogs was night and day.
In attack, we were not even close to clicking. There were plenty of poor options, playing side to side, and forcing offloads when they were unnecessary.
The Bulldogs were down on troops early. It was probably a matter of just needing to play direct, patient footy.
Instead it looked a matter of pushing too hard for that miracle, highlight reel play. There is a lot of improvement to be had.
In defence, it wasn’t all that bad. There was some great and desperate goal line defence, but a couple of poor misreads proved costly.
To pile on the pain, a number of errors meant the line speed wasn’t what it could’ve been.
The boys would be first to admit a 69% completion rate isn’t good enough and it meant we lost the battle of possession. It’s hard to win without the ball.
It’s time to knuckle down and play the footy we all know the Raiders are capable of.
This week offers a great shot at redemption but the Green Machine can’t take it lightly.
Newcastle are a team perennially down on confidence but it’s not always the case for the full 80 minutes.
They tend to start strong before being worn down as the game progresses. The boys will need to be ready to play like this as the floodgates won’t just open automatically.
They won’t all season, not against any team (except the Tigers but we don’t see them again in 2017).
Week to week, opposition teams are looking to make a point against our boys. Against early competition favourites, it’s a chance for other teams to prove themselves.
The challenge for the Raiders is to play like it’s the other way around. Our boys need to come out every week as if it’s them with the underdog tag.
Not a backwards step can be taken, not an unnecessary metre conceded. If it takes ugly footy, we need to be prepared to play it. It’s time to earn the right to turn on the razzle dazzle.
We all know what the Raiders have in them and we’re all eager to see it. Hopefully round 10 is the round the switch is turned back on.
Come on Green Machine!