Heartbreak aside, a huge opportunity awaits for Raiders

The Raiders will be shattered to have gone so close to winning a premiership and fallen just short but there were so many positive signs for them this year and with the experience of a losing grand final I can see them getting even better in 2020.

A lot of the conversation about the grand final has centred on one controversial refereeing decision but I'd rather focus on the fact that it was an amazing game, the Roosters are an incredible side who were deserved winners, while the Raiders were ultra-tough, deserved grand finalists who should be even better next year.

I thought the Raiders dominated a lot of that game and when you consider how good the Roosters are, for the Raiders to cop the early disappointment of a try after a really unlucky moment with the ball hitting the trainer to then come back and almost win is such a great sign.

I thought the Roosters would really go on with it at that point like they did against Melbourne last year.

But the Raiders actually forced the Roosters to play the game the Raiders wanted to play it – a tough, hard, physical slog and the Raiders had the best of it for the later parts of the first half and most of the second half.

Where they came unstuck was their execution and the precision in which they were attacking and that's where they can improve next year. If they do that they'll have an amazing team. Most of their key players and certainly key playmakers will be there next year and better for this year's experience.

Watching that game, there were too many times where passes were going just behind the mark or they got into position but didn't have enough direction with their attack.

They weren't able to attack individuals in the Roosters line; they really needed to go after a couple of key players and attacking their shoulders but instead they seemed content to just press the Roosters line as a whole and try and run over people the Tricolours are so happy to soak that stuff up all day.

Like I wrote last week, the Roosters are happy to invite you down their end and just soak up everything you can throw at them then when they get a chance, bang, they go down your end and score and that ended up being the case on Sunday.

The Raiders seemed to be hoping for a moment of individual brilliance and other than that one try from Jack Wighton they didn't get it and the Roosters just don't make that mistake you can usually rely on other teams making in those situations.

Given that Wighton try came fairly early on I was surprised they didn't go back there a bit more.

There were a number of things they could have done but didn't; they didn't put the Roosters under pressure and the most telling part was they couldn't score or even make line breaks against 12 men, which just shows that the Roosters were deserved winners.

Ricky Stuart would be happy with the effort and desire they put in. If you can polish that up a bit with some more precise attack then they could be anything.

For me the Roosters were the best team all year and deserved to win and played a tough style of footy and they looked threatening when they got their rhythm.

On the Raiders end it was just a bit of mismanagement when they got into attacking position and they weren't really attacking with purpose.

Most of their important players will be there next gear with grand final experience under their belts. They now know what it's like to lose one and how quickly it comes and goes and they'll all be better for it.

Next year is a long way away but I can't see them going backwards. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the Raiders bring next year.