This article was first written by Melissa Muscat, 2017 Parramatta Eels Members Councillor.
The last couple of years has proven to bring quite a bit of rivalry between the Sharks and the Raiders and last night didn’t disappoint. Another great line up for Retro Round. The Shire Boys are chasing a top two spot, the Raiders fighting to secure a finals place and the fact that last year Canberra ended Cronulla’s 16 game unbeaten streak, things were always going to be heated and exciting on the field. And that they were.
This match had it all, biff, the bin and plenty of tries. Raiders were also hot property in the 80’s and early 90’s. I went for them when I was around 10, the Green Machine Glory days. I loved Mal Meninga and who didn’t? He was quite a legendary player.
I have a bit of a soft spot for the Sharks, living a third of my life in the Shire and mostly being the underdog of the NRL until last year. I was at the grand final cheering them on to their first ever premiership and what a memorable night that was. Every team deserves to experience a grand final win. I also have a genuine respect for Paul Gallen. He does a lot for charity especially with terminally ill children, is a loving family man (congrats on the announcement of a fourth Sharkie on the way!) and is a knowledgeable commentator. He has also served NSW well and with pride. He is a man who just loves his footy and it shows in every aspect of his game.
Whilst the Shire Stadium could possibly be the coldest to watch footy at, it’s worth it for a great game. I was quite surprised by the score line though and really thought the Sharks would try and take revenge for the Raiders infamous win last year. Ironically the score line was almost identical, 30-12, one year ago 30-14. I felt it was a case of de ja vu. Even the style of play.
Canberra were determined though and just too strong. I find that when coaches are up against their old side they seem to have an edge. When Stephen Kearney was coach at Parramatta they had a great winning run against the Storm, now with Brad Arthur they have beaten Manly on the last few occasions. Could it be a sign for Ivan Cleary’s Tigers when they meet his former team the Panthers today? This game was no different. It seemed Ricky had drummed into the Raiders exactly what they needed to do to take the game and with ease. I think the Sharks are a little inconsistent this year though for a top four side which throws the comp wide open and makes for an exciting remaining four rounds. It’s almost anyone’s game in the top eight.
Although after watching Friday night’s game I think it’s safe to say Melbourne will have a good run in the finals.