Hits and Misses: Raiders put merciful end to miserable Tigers season

This week we take a look at how; the Raiders embarrassed the Tigers, Mitchell Moses laid out a Bromwich brother, Latrell Mitchell messed up some drop-outs and father time caught up with Wade Graham.

Read on as we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and misses of the weekend.


Raiders roar in miserable Tigers' den

Canberra Raiders cemented their place in the Top 8 with a withering start against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval. After 32 minutes they led 42-0 and threatened to bring up the half-century before the break. They didn't score again in the first half and took their boots off the throats of the Tigers in the second, with each team scoring two tries.

The Tigers, in their last game of the year, in front of their home crowd, were simply insipid in the first half. There weren't many men wearing the black, white and gold willing to put themselves in the way of the rampaging Green Machine. It was a cringe-worthy effort, even for a neutral spectator.

The halftime spray from interim coach Brett Kimmorley may have lifted the Tigers for a better effort, of course it could just have easily have been Ricky Stuart telling his men to avoid unnecessary injury.

The Raiders will now face the Storm in Melbourne, having only squeaked into the finals thanks largely to the complete collapse of the Broncos. Having won their last four against the Storm in Melbourne, stretching back to pre-pandemic 2019, AAMI Park will hold no fears for Canberra.

Massive Moses hit sets high standard for Eels

Eleven minutes into the second half of the vital clash for a Top 4 finish, Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses lined up Melbourne Storm forward Kenny Bromwich and hit him front on five metres out from his own line. The pass from Nick Meaney was a classic hospital ball, but no one expected Moses to be driving the ambulance all by himself.

Bromwich spilled the ball, as his head collided firmly with the turf as landed in his back. He was helped from the field for an HIA, which he failed, taking no further part in the game.

Moses, who has only recently returned to the Eels after battling a broken finger, is obviously key from an attacking perspective. His defence in the past has been criticised, but if he can produce that kind of grit and timing against the bigger forwards who inevitably target him, then he will lift the entire side in the big games to come.


Mitchell misses mark on short drop-outs

The short goal-line drop-out started to gain popularity back during Des Hasler's stint at the Bulldogs. There was a period late in his tenure when the Bulldogs only kicked their goal-line drop-outs shallow. Hasler figured at worst you would be defending on your goal line for an extra couple of tackles, where your defence should be at its strongest anyway. At best you could regain the ball or force an error.

This season quite a number of clubs are employing the tactic selectively, but very rarely as poorly as the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

Latrell Mitchell had all sorts of trouble kicking the ball the required 10 metres. One of his worst efforts curled back and landed just a couple a metre or two from his line. The Bunnies will have to do a lot of work on their drop outs in the coming weeks, or perhaps abandon the idea all together heading into the big games where every point is precious.

Aging Graham makes some costly errors

Sharks captain Wade Graham has been a champion of the game for many years. He started out in the vast nursery of Penrith, before joining the Sharks in 2011, playing a key role in their first and only premiership in 2016.

In recent years he has struggled with injuries, as father time catches up. In the first half against Newcastle on Sunday we saw him make two errors which resulted in a 12-point turnaround.

Following a bustling run from prop Braden Hamlin-Uele, the ball found its way to centre Siosifa Talakai who had Graham looming on the inside, with nothing but the goal posts to stop him. The pass found Graham's breadbasket before inexplicably spewing forward onto the turf.

Five minutes later at the other end of the field, Graham broke from a scrum and badly missed the sweet-stepping Tex Hoy, who crossed for the Knights' first try. Instead of the Sharks leading 12-0, the scores were locked at six early in a game the Sharks had to win to have a home final next week.

The Knights continued to put up enthusiastic resistance, but ultimately the Sharks were too good. Graham's leadership and experience will be vital to the Sharks in the coming weeks, but they can't afford anyone to be off their game at all if they are to go the whole way and collect the club's second title.