Rugby League

Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm talking points

TILSE BIDS FAREWELL IN STYLE

It was a nice touch when departing Raiders prop Dane Tilse walked through a banner in his honour, young daughter Ila tucked under his arm, before his 200th match for the club, and final at home before he joins Hull KR.

Canberra Raiders player Dane Tilse with daughter Ila after playing his 200th game and his last home game for the ...
Canberra Raiders player Dane Tilse with daughter Ila after playing his 200th game and his last home game for the Canberra Raiders.  Photo: Melissa Adams MLA

Tilse became just the 10th Raiders player to achieve the honour, joining some of the game's greats including Laurie Daley, Steve Walters and current coach Ricky Stuart.

His first stint starting the game was full of purpose, the tallest man in the NRL running for 51 metres from six runs. Racking up 200 games in 10 seasons in the front row is a terrific achievement and testament to the 30-year-old's durability. It's a shame he couldn't finish off with a win. 

TILSES BOOKEND RAIDERS CAREERS

Still on Tilse and Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy went out of his way to toast his career in his post-match press conference.

Bellamy and Tilse's father Mick were teammates in Canberra's first season in 1982. Mick presented Tilse with his 200th jersey on Sunday, as he did when he made his Raiders debut.

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"As a club we'd like to wish Dane all the best, he's been a wonderful player for the Raiders," Bellamy said.

"He's always had the respect of our forwards, on and off the field. I was here when the Raiders first started and his old man was an original Raider as well, I'm sure he's a real proud man today too. He's been a really reliable, resilient player for the Raiders."

WITH TILSE GONE, VAUGHAN NOW RAIDERS FRONT ROW LEADER

If there was any doubt who would replace the likes of Tilse and David Shillington as Canberra's forward leader in coming years, Paul Vaughan has ended it with some huge displays off the bench recently. He ran for 148 metres against the Storm, having racked up 176 metres in last week's win over Manly and 141 metres against the Roosters the week before.

Many experts have tipped him to be a future NSW Origin player, and coach Laurie Daley confirmed he's on the radar by naming him in the Blues Emerging Squad over the off-season. Stuart was reluctant to heap praise on him afterward, though.

"He's a wonderful player. I won't see too much more because when I rap him they [teammates] bag the crap out of him," Stuart laughed.

CAN THE RAIDERS OVERCOME THEIR INJURIES?

The Raiders showed last year they can handle being without their workhorse Shaun Fensom, who could be sidelined for a few weeks after picking up an ankle injury against Melbourne. Canberra won its last three games without the lock after he suffered a season-ending knee injury, ending a frustrating year on a high note.

However, it remains to be seen if they can cover as well for English hooker Hodgson. The Raiders were noticeably less threatening in attack when he went off with a leg problem, having hit a teammate's leg attempting a clearing kick. Glen Buttriss was serviceable as his replacement but Hodgson has been crucial to their direction early in the year. 

KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID

Canberra's game plans against Manly and Melbourne have been very simple - focus on grinding out games and not too anything too risky. It worked a treat in last week's 29-16 win over the Sea Eagles in Albury.

A similar blueprint very nearly pulled off another win against a Melbourne side famous for getting down in the trenches. The Raiders completed at 83 per cent on Sunday, impressive given the rain which persisted for most of the match.