Raiders looking to quell Storm in final game of the year
The Raiders will be steeled by a desire to finish 2017 on a high when they visit Melbourne’s AAMI Park for the first time since last year’s heartbreaking preliminary final exit.
The Green Machine learned its 2017 fate as the Cowboys and Sea Eagles edged towards wins on the weekend after the Raiders had thrashed the Knights to keep their season alive.
But the fact finals footy is out of the picture will mean little for the motivation of Ricky Stuart’s men when they meet the table-topping Storm on Saturday night.
Hooker Josh Hodgson says the side is intent on leaving Storm territory with a win in a bid to finish the season on a good note.
“We’re going down there to finish our season positively. That’s all we can play for at the moment,” Hodgson said.
“We’re all proud men and we’re a proud club and we want to finish strongly. We’re pretty disappointed at how we’ve played this year and where we’ve finished up in the league and we obviously want to try to get any respect and pride back we can. I think going down to Melbourne and finishing the year strongly could be a good thing for us.”
It is no secret the clash will draw curtains on a Raiders season that failed to fulfil lofty expectations.
The Green Machine took to its 2017 campaign as a genuine premiership contender after having charged to its first preliminary final berth since 1997 last year.
It followed a scintillating 10-match winning streak that propelled the Raiders into second on the ladder to finish the regular season.
The Raiders have played out a mixed year in 2017 in which they have fallen valiantly in some of the tightest encounters in recent memory and on other days put a number of teams to the sword.
The downfall for the Raiders this year was clearly the games in which they fell valiantly in a raft of down-to-the-wire games.
Canberra’s for-and-against (87) ranks fourth in the competition on the cusp of the final round of the regular season despite the fact the side sits in 10th.
Eight of the Green Machine’s 12 losses this season have been decided by six points or less and Hodgson says the host of tight losses shapes as a big talking point in camp over the course of the off-season.
“We’ve had too many close losses and that’s no secret and that’s something we really need to fix up,” the English international said.
“If we could have stolen half of those we’d have been in the eight so that’s pretty disappointing and that’s obviously something that’s going to be brought up and looked at.
“It’s tough to think about the amount of close ones that have skipped away from us and if they had gone our way then we might have been in the mix.”
Tight losses aside, the Raiders are relishing the thought of facing the competition’s biggest juggernaut to round out the year.
“They’re the teams you want to play against,” Hodgson said.
“You want to play against the best teams and Melbourne have been the most consistent team all year and they’re going to finish top. I think they’re probably tipped to win it and it would be nice to play a strong side and get a result.”