Throughout the 2020 season the Raiders had outstanding performers across the park. Whether they were international stars or rookies coming into the team, each of them played a significant role in the season just gone.
In this series, we’ll look at each position and each of the players who played there for the Green Machine as we review the 2020 season.
This time we’re taking a look at the halves.
Jack Wighton - 22 games, 13 tries
George Williams – 22 games, seven tries
Matt Frawley - one game, one try
Sam Williams – one game, one try
The signing of George Williams was a big talking point heading into the season and the English international didn’t disappoint as he hit the ground running.
The halfback showcased his strong running game to devastating effect as he linked up seamlessly with Jack Wighton.
Wighton – who was coming off the back of an incredible 2019 season – continued his development as a half and firmly established himself as one of the game’s elite players.
As a combination, the pair complemented each other well as Wighton scored plenty of tries with his powerful running and Williams set up eight tries in the opening eight rounds.
The Englishman scored his first try for the Raiders against the Dragons in round eight as he stepped his way through a gap in the defensive line.
However, the pair had to redefine their roles after round nine when Josh Hodgson suffered a season ending ACL injury.
With the focal point of the attack on the sidelines, George Williams stepped up to the plate and roamed on both sides of the ruck.
In the back half of the season, Wighton became even more dominant as he singlehandedly took games by the scruff of the neck. The five-eighth scored nine tries in his final eight games of the season – with most of the tries crucial to the Raiders claiming victories.
The pair played the first 19 games of the regular season but were rested for the final match as Sam Williams and Matt Frawley were given the chance to impress.
And impress they did.
The two local juniors led the Raiders to a memorable and enjoyable victory over the Sharks.
Jack Wighton and George Williams resumed their roles as the finals series commenced and dug the Raiders out of a hole in the Elimination Final.
Against the Roosters the following week, both halves were amongst the try scorers as the Green Machine claimed a famous victory.
Although the Raiders were beaten by eventual premiers, the Melbourne Storm, Wighton’s season didn’t finish there as he was crowned the best player in the NRL as the Dally M Medallist.
The Big Matches
Round 1 – Raiders 24 d Titans 6
Jack Wighton began the season in the same form he finished 2019. Two tries in the opening 13 minutes was enough to blow the Titans away and ensure the Raiders started the season with a win.
George Williams impressed and showed Raiders fans what he could do as he threatened the try line on multiple occasions and proved a handful for the Titans’ defence.
Although it was only days for the pair, it was the first signs of the big performances that were to come throughout 2020.
Round 20 – Raiders 32 d Sharks 20
The baby Raiders beating the Sharks was one of the highlights of the season but the performances of two experienced halves played an enormous role.
Having not played a game since NSW Cup was cancelled after the opening round, Sam Williams and Matt Frawley came into the side seamlessly.
For Sam Williams, he earned the role of captain for the night and capped off the performance with a memorable try as he linked up with Tom Starling.
For Frawley, it was his Raiders debut after he’d come through the club’s junior pathways before playing for the Bulldogs and Huddersfield Giants. The five-eighth made sure it was a debut to remember with a try of his own.
Finals Week 1 – Raiders 32 d Sharks 20
The baby Raiders got the job done but the following week in an Elimination Final, the Raiders were in trouble against the Sharks.
With the Sharks leading 14-6 close to halftime, a George Williams intercept try turned the tide and gave the Raiders momentum going into the break.
In the second half, Jack Wighton turned the game on its head as he quickly took the tap after the Sharks gave away a penalty.
Minutes later, a perfectly weighted George Williams kick found Jack Wighton and the five-eighth grabbed his second.
The halves weren’t finished there as Wighton turned provider for George Williams who ran straight through a hole to score and seal the win for the Raiders.