The dust has finally settled on another epic NRL season after Sydney Roosters beat Canberra Raiders 14-8 in the Grand Final.
The Dally M second-rower of the year has been one of the most talked about entities of Canberra’s season with his all round performances consistently standing out. On the league’s biggest stage, Bateman showed he is again one of the NRL’s best with another outstanding defensive effort for the best part of the game. However, for all of Canberra’s possession in the second half, they were unable to convert their chances and after holding the Roosters to eight points for a good 70 minutes – they just could not hold on because a controversial refereeing decision saw Canberra miss out on another set of tackles, Sydney broke away on the next play to take the honours 14-8.
The game may have ended in heartbreak for the 25-year-old and his side but we cannot take anything away from such a brave effort. In the loss to the Roosters, Bateman had the joint most tackles on the field with 41 alongside 92 metres from 10 carries. As mentioned on countless occasions, the Bradfordian has been a difference maker both with the ball in his hand and defensively, finishing the season with the third most tackles and third most metres made for the Raiders and with the upcoming GB tour just around the corner, one can only hope we see that same player.
There is no doubt he has been the Green Machine’s catalyst for most of the season as he regularly racks up the tackle numbers and directs the attack like a half-back when needed. Although it was not the ending to the season the dummy-half would have wanted, Hodgson has still shown to be one of the best at his position throughout the course of the year. The England international has kept Ricky Stuart’s men ticking both offensively with his expert build-up play and defensively with his superb ball stripping and tackling ability.
He ended the season with the most tackles for Canberra with 830 as well as the most one-on-one strips. Alongside Bateman, he is set to be rested for the upcoming World Cup Nines in two weeks, leaving his attention solely focused on being prime and ready for the Great Britain tour. If the 29-year-old can keep up the form of which we have seen all season then it can only mean good things for the Lions.
Alongside his fellow compatriots, Whitehead put in another hard-working and solid effort in the back-row with 35 tackles to his name. The 30-year-old has showcased his toughness and has been a measure of consistency in a valiant and highly improved season for the men in lime green.
In a season that has seen its fair share of injuries, the second-rower has been durable as ever, playing in every Raiders game this season and putting up numbers on a consistent basis as well as showing himself to be a leader amongst that dominant forward pack. The former Bradford and Catalans star ended the season with the second most tackles by a Canberra player with 785 and even despite the Grand Final heartache, Whitehead can now look ahead to the World Cup Nines where England will hope his influence and hard work play a huge factor.
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