Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
A season that promised so much is in need of a major overhaul, starting with the replacement of halfback Brad Drew. Drew came to Canberra with high expectations and delivered early on in the season but his performances in recent times have been very poor. His lack of enthusiasm is starting to spread with the Raiders performance today easily their worst of the year.
Drew has been singled out in defence and is a major liability in the defensive line. He does not slide and is caught with his feet planted, making it ever so easy for opposing sides to simply run through the gap he creates. Either that or he runs out of the line leaving an even bigger gap for the remaining players to contend with.
Drew?s game has fallen apart and the Raiders as a team are going along for the ride. He is a liability in defence and opposing teams are singling him out every week now and Drew was again caught out of position that lead to a Melbourne try.
Another problem for the Raiders is the lateral movement inside the opposing side?s red zone. Instead of having a rampaging forward running straight and hard wide of the ruck, the Raiders are simply going through the hands and backing themselves into a corner. There were at least two occasions in today?s match where a straight running forward would have scored but the ball simply went sideways and not forwards.
The Raiders need to go back to what made them successful at the start of the season and that was smart dummy half running with the forwards laying the platform but at the moment, the side looks devoid of ideas in attack and the halfback is the man who is supposed to lead the team around the park.
Matthew Elliott needs to wield the axe and make the hard decisions. Three losses is enough to warrant wholesale changes and after looking like a side cruising into the playoffs with momentum and confidence on their side, the Raiders are starting to look desperate, or they should start to look desperate but the lack of effort today showed anything but desperation.
A loss to an under strength Dragons outfit next week would see the Raiders fall back to fourth place as the Roosters have the bye and are only two points behind with a superior for and against. The pack are closing and are starting to apply the blowtorch but are Canberra starting to feel the heat? Today?s effort would suggest they think all they have to do is turn up and reputation, along with home ground advantage will get them across the line. Tell that to the Storm who stuck it to the Raiders for eighty minutes and came away with a well deserved victory.
Matt Elliott has shown he is a man of vision at times; let?s not hope the ward apathy is in his repertoire because the retaining of Drew would be the text book example of just that.