1 Raiders forwards emphasise premiership contention in 2018
Their hard running forward game matched the backs resurgence last week with Soliola, Paulo, Tapine, Papalii, Boyd, and Lui running for 170, 99, 111, 112, 142 and 100 metres respectively for a combined 734 metres. In total, the Raiders ran for 1774, in total and their forwards led the way, it is frightening to think of the damage they can do this season if their forwards continue to roll through the ruck like they did yesterday.
Not only are their forwards capable of tearing through the middle they possess the ball skills and offloading ability to wreak havoc on teams and with a star-studded backline the Raiders premiership hopes have returned.
Four wins in five matches and the club sit just one win outside the top eight heading into an Origin period where they may lose just one player in Josh Papalii.
2 Titans have gone backwards since Broncos win
At odds to win against a Broncos side defending their turf at home on Easter Sunday the Titans brutal intensity humbled a Broncos side that simply weren't up to the Titans ball game. Fast forward 5 rounds and the club just once since and whilst they lost by a point last week the signs aren't great.
Compiling further misery on their finals plight the Titans ended the match with no bench for the remaining 8 minutes. Jai Arrow, Jarrod Wallace, Keegan Hipgrave and Ryan Simpkins all going down leaving the club short of options in the back row.
It will take a strong turn around to get things headed in the right direction from here especially with such an injury toll, it wouldn't be ludicrous to right their season off here and now.
3 Siliva Havili one of the buys of the season
When Josh Hodgson picked up an injury in the 2017 World Cup it was panic stations at the Raiders without a regularly experienced hooker the club including Ricky Stuart announced the massive setback the loss of Josh was going to be. The astute signing of a high flying Havili after a World Cup, in contrast, to remember for Tonga and the Raiders haven't looked back.
A try assist, line break, line break assist, 5 tackle breaks and all round menacing display has terrorised the Titans and proved pivotal to the Raiders forwards gaining big meters. His fast first time service out of dummy half and timing his running game out of dummy half to perfection meant the Raiders big men chewed even more metres through the middle third.
When Hodgson returns around Round 18 the Raiders have a deadly, one-two combination in the hooking department that will also allow for Hodgson to be eased back into first grade faster, interchanging with Havili in the hooker role.
4 Titans need to bring in a mentor for Ash Taylor
The Melbourne Storm, Brisbane Broncos and even Sydney Roosters all do it, bring in an Andrew or Matty Johns a Kevin Walters and it works wonders. Ash Taylor has all the talent in the world however he doesn't know how to unlock it, it's as frustrating as watching Widdop dwindle away at the Dragons after making the big move from the Storm. However Widdop has come in leaps and bounds since, and despite there being no reports of a mentor kicking him out of his form slump, a young Taylor would reap the rewards of a mentor who has been in the week in, week out firing line that is the NRL.
Boasts eight try assists for the season however his lack of direction to spearhead a Titans side full of enthusiasm is his greatest downfall at the moment. With such a big future in the game it would be a shame to not see his potential realised as soon as possible.
5 Rapana consistently one of the best wingers of the modern era
166 running meters with 3 line breaks and 6 tackle breaks Rapana, has consistently produced these sorts of numbers since 2016. Rarely, if ever, has a poor game, in what was a struggling Raiders side. Must instill so much belief in the playing group, he is a player capable of having one great major contribution to a game that ends up being game-changing.
Yesterday took his try with his usual aplomb however it had genius written all over it, tip-toeing down the sideline and finishing brilliantly as he dove for the corner. The best signing in my eyes made by any club since 2016 and for a winger that is big news. Here's to hoping he gets to grace a Grand Final before his playing days are out.
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