This week's column is brought to you by the letter "H" for "Hip Drop" and the number "3", for the number of uncalled sin-bins.

After an embarrassing loss to Cronulla where the green men didn't come out of the sheds at half time and were blown off the park by an aggressively mid Sharks outfit, it was anybody's guess as to which version of the Raiders the green faithful were going to get.

The bookies didn't know, we didn't know - I doubt even Ricky knew.

Further complicating matters was the torrential rain the night before. It was going to be slick, cold, and miserable out there.

I won't give you the agonizing play by play, but despite everyone going down with a knee or ankle injury, Canberra displayed something they hadn't for a long time - at least against an opponent not called "Wests Tigers".

After a tight, grubby, shitty first half, Parramatta clocked off, and the Raiders switched on.

In a fearsome offensive display, Canberra piled on five second half tries and never looked like losing the game. Despite the avalanche of six-agains, rubbish penalties, and bullshit dog-shot no-calls.

Yes, I know, don't whinge about the officiating, I'm exposing myself as a hypocrite here, but it's been a shocking start to the season.

Before I get too mad about officials, let me head myself off at the pass, and say that it takes two to tango. The call might not have been made, but the call wouldn't have had to be made if the Eels could've kept their grubby tendencies in check.

I don't like disagreeing with Sticky often, but Bailey Simonsson absolutely committed a hip-drop tackle. He bent Ata Mariota's knee, who bravely spent the next sixty-five minutes on a leg and a half trying not to get blown out by the Eels' big bopper forward pack.

A task he completed with great valour.

Furthermore, I have no idea how Xavier Savage did not have a head injury after having Reagan Campbell-Gillard smash his head in twice, leaving the ground in an act that could easily be described as canine in nature.

Grubby Eels aside, the mighty green men played with tremendous attacking flair. Parramatta were fragile around the edges, something that the Raiders were more than happy to take advantage of, as the likes of Xavier Savage, Matt Timoko and Ethan Strange proved to be nightmarishly difficult to handle all night.

The X-man has taken his year in the 2s like a champ, it seems, and Matt Timoko is Matt Timoko (despite not being allowed to be praised last week), but the real deal, for mine, is Ethan Strange.

When the Storm assblasted a largely checked-out Canberra side (thrilling elimination final notwithstanding) I had concerns it had rattled his confidence. He wasn't sighted for the remaining games of the year, and it was anybody's guess what the green machine was going to get.

Well, the verdict is in. Meet your ready-made Jack Wighton replacement.

He defends well, he's agile, strong, and benefits incredibly from Jamal Fogarty having the keys to the bus. He's already got a little highlight package, and last night was no exception, producing deft chip kicks, power running, evasive running, and giving Hudson, Seb and X-ecutioner room to work their magic.

Ethan does have strong family connections to the Roosters, however, so don't be surprised if they eventually come knocking. But Sydney, let me tell you, You'd better have the brown bag of cash to match.

The burning question after five rounds, is this.

Will the real Canberra Raiders please stand up?

Are you the ultra-athletic, hard-running, big green wave that shreds defences? Or are you the fair weather side that drops their head when the going gets tough, and lose in awkward and humiliating fashion.

Newcastle didn't challenge them, Wests were still working out whatever it was they were doing, and apparently the Eels are imploding.

The Warriors stood up to them (plus we were carrying Elliott Whitehead) and the Sharks, well, you know how that one went.

If Ricky can somehow bring the gulf between their best and their worst closer together, and build on the promise this side has shown, look out, world. But that's a big if. And I doubt we'll get a conclusion, satisfying or otherwise, to that dilemma this year.

We're back again in the identical 6:15 timeslot to take on the Titans at home this week. It's anybody's guess which version of the Raiders will show up, but I'll be there for all eighty painstaking minutes of it.

Catch you next time,

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