A week is a long time in Rugby League and for the Canberra Raiders, it may not be enough time to save their NRL season.
The Raiders sat second on the competition table at the conclusion of the regular season, but now hang on the precipice after falling to the Cronulla Sharks on the weekend.
Ricky Stuart’s side are now faced with a sudden death semi-final on Saturday against the red-hot Penrith Panthers in Canberra.
But according to League Nation Live panellist Justin Hodges, to have any chance of continuing their finals journey, they must return to the playing style that saw them just miss the minor premiership.
“What was most disappointing for me was the Raiders didn’t play the style of football that they’ve been playing all year,” Hodges told NITV’s League Nation Live.
“You see it, if you’re a young team like them, they haven’t been in Semi Final football before they go into their shell.
“They weren’t playing that expansive football, they weren’t going to their edges. BJ Leilua and Croker hardly touched the ball. They’ve got keep going to things that work
“It is high, intense football but you can’t go into your shell. You’ve got to play the style that got you there in the first place,” said Hodges.
The Raiders were disappointing in their loss to Cronulla, with the Sharks prevailing despite the loss of several key players, including representative stars Paul Gallen and Wade Graham.
Fellow League Nation Live panellist Jharal Yow Yeh praised the Sharks for their rugged win, saying the victory was a copybook finals performance.
“I thought the Sharks played really well,” said Yow Yeh.
“They still haven’t picked up their form from July, where they were playing their best footy, but they’re getting the job done in the finals, and come finals it doesn’t matter if it’s ugly, you just have to find a way to win.
“They were impressive though, very impressive”.