Wests Tigers christen their newest house of horrors, Raiders surge as Knights boys become men

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

Wests Tigers have opened a new chapter in their nomadic existence with a horrible 28-0 defeat at their latest home ground, Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium.

The Canberra Raiders were excellent but didn’t have much thrown at them.

Canberra fans that braved the conditions and made the trip up the Hume Highway had a ball at rugby league’s shiny new venue. ‘Canberra’ chants echoed throughout the evening. Late in the match, Raiders supporters gave it to exiting Wests Tigers fans leaving early. At the final siren, they broke out into a Viking clap.

Some will question why Wests Tigers need another “home” ground.

Yeah they make money on the deal but what price do you put on your own soul?

Wests Tigers play three of their next four games at Bankwest. Those matches are against South Sydney, Sydney Roosters and regular tenants, Parramatta.

Dark times ahead.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart would be doing backflips.

No coach loves a beer with his players more than Stuart so you can imagine there may be a case or two consumed on the way home.

What would impress him most was the effort on their line in the second half.

Wests Tigers were pedestrian at best as they spluttered up the paddock.

But when the Raiders needed to surge they pulverised their opposition.

Within a matter of minutes both Wests Tigers wingers were bundled into touch within spitting distance of the try line. Raiders players came from everywhere.

“That’s our third game we’ve held a team to zero,” Stuart said post-match.

“I’m a coach that loves that mentality. The right attitude and the will to play for each other was there tonight.”

The just released former Penrith Panther Dallin Watene-Zalezniak is expected to join Wests Tigers in the coming days – a talented ball runner that lacks a passing or kicking game. He’s meant to slot into fullback at Concord.

Wests Tigers fans are growing increasingly frustrated at the recruitment at the club. Signing DWZ for the sake of it seems very Wests Tigers on the back of the recruitment of Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye.

Reynolds has struggled with injury but hasn’t been preferred when fit while despite being captain, Mbye is apparently being shopped around. He only joined the club in May last season.

There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason to what Wests Tigers do.

How does the inclusion of DWZ improve Wests Tigers?

But Friday night was about the Raiders.

For too long they have been the forgotten sons of the NRL.

They are back.

And they did it without their best player, Josh Hodgson.

Jarrod Croker, John Bateman, Josh Papalii and the rest are brilliant but Hodgson is one of the best players on the planet. Canberra is the real deal with or without Hodgson.

On the same night as the Raiders extended and Wests Tigers faded further into the wilderness, Newcastle came of age down the road at Homebush.

The missing link thus far for the Knights has been their development players.

Superstars Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce have stolen the headlines and rightly so. Other recruits like David Klemmer, Jesse Ramien and Connor Watson have given them starch but tonight at ANZ Stadium, their local boys became men.

It’s rare to see fists fly in the modern game.

But how good was it?

Not often anyone takes on the Burgess lads like that either.

Tom Burgess gave Daniel Saifiti a Liverpool kiss.

Saifiti let rip.

Who knows what Lachlan Fitzgibbon was binned for but the point is, he was there, in the thick of it.

The last piece of the Knights puzzle.

@woodward_curtis

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