We love our team, and we love our fans! Photo: Stuart Walmsley
The difference between a Top Eight side and the rest of the competition could not have been more clearly displayed than in the Raiders' seven-tries-to-two hammering of the New Zealand Warriors.
We all know the Raiders are better when they go under the radar and, this season, the team has been intentionally making sure they do not attract too much attention.
That's why they followed their scintillating performance against the Tigers by letting one slip against the Cowboys. It's why Dave Furner has let key players like Shaun Fensom, Brett White and Josh Dugan rest for a few games. And it's why Jarrod Croker ensured he didn't convert all the tries today against the Warriors (after all, 42-12 is a bit obvious.)
Take that! Photo: Stuart Walmsley
But there is only so much a talented team like the Green Machine can do to hide its ability and it was evident to everyone at Canberra Stadium today that they are premiership material. David Shillington spent two hours following the game picking out Warriors forwards from his studs after he, and fellow prop Tom Learoyd-Lars, trampled the visitors' pack. Out wide, Reece Robinson, Blake Ferguson and Shaun Berrigan ran circles around their sloth-like counterparts.
Every couple of years, the NRL tries to boost ratings overseas by shepherding the Warriors to a grand-final but today it was clear the New Zealanders were back to producing their traditional standard of football. The only highlight being that the team could combine to score more points than Croker.
However, the Warriors are in far better shape than a couple of NRL teams whose 2012 season can now be laid to rest. The Parramatta Eels never had any chance this season and the Wests Tigers' season was ended two weeks ago. After Round Six, you can add the Gold Coast Titans to Eels and Tigers on the list of teams who will just be making up the numbers until September.
In other news: The conversation about who should play in the halves for NSW come State of Origin time continued with Wayne Bennett stating that Newcastle's Jarred Mullen should not be considered for the NSW Number 7 spot because he is not a half-back. Bennett neglected to mention that Mullen is not a five-eighth either.