Thursday, June 08, 2017

NRL 2017 Round 14: The Mighty Canberra Raiders

As a Raiders fan, I have been through many years of rubbish, witnessed season after season of lost games, missed kicks, dropped balls, bad passes, devastating injuries, poor tackles, horrible decisions and shithouse performances. 
We’ve dropped players for poor form, for fucking dogs, for being pissheads, for being dickheads, for being too old and to make way for a new generation.  We’ve brought in coaches with good track records at other clubs, and dropped them for not getting the same results at our club.  We hired new coaches for rebuilding, a different coach to rebuild that one again and another one because those ones didn’t work out.  We’ve used experienced coaches, rookie coaches and ex-players.  And we’ve fired them for bringing in too many dickheads, for not getting rid of all of the dickheads, and just because other teams are getting new coaches and sometimes it’s nice to have new things. 
Somewhere along the way, there was some football played, and not all of it was great.  The Raiders were more often than not seemingly content with being “part of the finals series” then “just outside the top eight” and “not quite on the bottom”, until we were happy just to “be a part of the competition.”
Through some rare good planning, good recruitment or just plain good luck, last year’s Raiders team clicked together like fresh Lego.  I don’t know what they were like off the footy field; I don’t know if they’re all good mates who have barbecues during summer and invite the whole team and their mums, or if they have each other’s mobile numbers and send emoji eggplants to each other at 3am; I don’t know if they even know each other’s real names, but I do know that in 2016, the team was fucking great at rugby league on the field, and played like they were in a coming-of-age movie where they learnt that playing as a star team was better than playing as a team of stars.
They didn’t win the whole comp – maybe they were overawed by the situation of playing finals football, maybe they were just getting tired, maybe they were sick of running through injuries that were already 20 weeks old, maybe they had an off day, maybe it was Shannon Boyd’s potato salad that made everybody sick.  No, they didn’t win, but they went close; they played exciting football and made a shit-tin of new fans in the process.  And everyone said, “Next year.”
Well this is next year.  This is supposed to be our year.  And at the halfway point of the season, we’re sitting around 9th place on the ladder, and yet to beat a top-eight side.  Sure, we’ve been in the contest for 90% of our games, with three golden-point losses and a couple of games that were decided by 4 points.  If we’d won those games, the Raiders would be sitting in 2nd place on the ladder right now.  But we didn’t win those games, and just managed to crawl choking and spluttering past a depleted Roosters and Parramatta team.  And with each more disappointing performance, the fans comfort themselves by repeating “at least we’re not Newcastle,” except we lost to them as well.  And then we watch an out-of-form Panthers team put in a 38-0 performance over the Bulldogs and we think “well at least we’re not Canterbury lol look at Des Hasler’s hair,” until we remember that they beat us as well, without their best prop and their key playmaker.  And even though the Green Machine fell to a team without substitutes, a kicking game or anyone able to tackle, the media release has been the same:  “we’re only losing by a couple of points, and a win is not far away.” 
It’d better fucking not be too far away.  Our last premiership was in 1994, which is getting into dangerous meme territory.  Now the only team we can make fun of is the Warriors, and even they made a grand final more recently than us.
Also, with that 1994 team, only winning one year was a bit disappointing.  When all 13 of your starting line-up and a couple of your reserves are international and Origin representatives, you really should be dominant for a fucking decade.  But that’s just me.
For the Green Machine tragics, here’s some Ricky Stuart magic that might make everyone feel a bit better about life.  How come Sezer can't throw these kinds of passes?  

Round 14

Cronulla (1.61) vs Melbourne (2.38)

With Cooper Cronk being “rested” by Melbourne, I can’t see anything but a Cronulla victory tonight, and that makes me sad.  It would be great if everyone was really injured by the end of the game and had to retire from playing forever.

Manly (1.21) vs Newcastle (4.60)

Daly Cherry-Evans is playing his little heart out at the moment, and is in danger of being picked for Origin 2 if he keeps this kind of malarkey going.  Newcastle… well, you just have to love them, don’t you? 

Brisbane (1.24) vs Souths (4.15)

Things that happened when Souths were good:  Flappy Bird, Chris Martin and Gwenny P broke up, Courtney Love found the missing Malaysian Airlines plane on Google Earth, How I Met Your Mother finished and Sharknado 2 was released. 

Gold Coast (1.73) vs Warriors (2.15)

No one cares.

Penrith (1.82) vs Canberra (2.04)

Ok, so I’ve had a fair spray at Canberra already, but I think this is going to be the game that turns their season around.  Just saying that gives me goosebumps.  No, it’s just a rash.  Never mind.  WOO.  GO RAIDERS WOO.

Parramatta (2.00) vs North Queensland (1.85)

I do like the enthusiasm of Parra at the moment.  I wouldn’t hate for them to win this one, but they probably won’t.  It’s nice to see the Cowboys winning without Thursty Thurston for a change too.  I don't mind who wins this one, and I hope everyone has a great game, has fun and enjoys the spirit of good-hearted competition.  

Wests Tigers (4.35) vs Roosters (1.23)

Normally you’d just say “whoever is playing the Tigers will knock up a cricket score” but the Roosters will probably make it look a bit harder than it should. 

Canterbury (2.67) vs St George (1.50)

At the start of the year, I had picked Canterbury to be fucking shithouse, and St George to be just as bad.  Just goes to show that I’m right about half the time, and the other half I’m not far off.

Anthony Watts was an occasional player for the Cowboys and Sharks, and despite never actually playing a game for the Roosters, was dropped by them twice.  His greatest achievement on the field was biting another player on the dick. 

Following the end of his rugby league career, he joined two bikie gangs, the Finks and the Mongols, and was surprisingly arrested for “gang-related crimes.”  He was arrested a second time for selling steroids, and a third time for beating up an old man on the street.  We can rest assured that this pillar of society is a free man again today.

"I was wearing a mouthguard and there’s no way I bit him on the dick. It’s pretty shithouse to be at the centre of something like this, even though I've been through a lot in my career."-      Anthony Watts

Funny, he doesn't look like a criminal

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