The Mounties quickly established themselves as one of the premiership heavyweights in the first half of the 2018 season but somehow managed to slip significantly as the finals series drew near. 

By the end of Round 19, they joined the Penrith Panthers on top of the competition ladder – comfortably sitting in second place with the Newtown Jets trailing just behind although having played an extra game. 

11 wins and six losses had them firming as one of the favourites to be there in the final game of the season, but an unexpected turn of events saw them remain winless until the end of the regular season with five consecutive losses seeing them fall out of the top-four.

Coincidentally, the unceremonious departure of Craig Garvey in the same week proved costly. The live-wire hooker was, arguably, the form player of the competition with 19 try-assists and 17 line-break assists to his name, and his absence was telling as they were kept to just one try in their first two fixtures without him. 

Collectively, they struggled to find their groove until the first week of the finals, with a Tyler Cornish field-goal proving the difference in their gallant 21-20 victory over the Warriors. Their season would be cut short, however, unable to match the power of the Jets with a 34-16 defeat just one week later. 

The Mounties will be made to rue their shortcomings despite their early success under coach Ryan Carr, but there is little doubt they will be better for the experience in 2019 as they look to build on the vast array of positives from their campaign. 

The Key Numbers

4.9 and 2.9.

The Mounties and the Newtown Jets both proved to be the most potent attacking sides in the competition for a majority of the season, with Ryan Carr's men in particular showcasing their class with a 62-0 drubbing of Newcastle in Round 13.

Fullback Brad Abbey proved instrumental in their attacking raids with 12 tries for the year and formed a lethal combination with Garvey and Cornish throughout the campaign, while Brendan O'Hagan's inclusion at five-eighth also added a new dimension. 

Their downfall in the later stages of the year, however, saw them struggle for points at certain stages with an average of just under three tries from Round 20 to their match in week two of the finals after changes to their spine and playing roster. 

They showed glimpses of what could of been as one of the most clinical attacking sides in the competition, but unfortunately for Mounties, it wasn't to be. 

The Rising Star

It was a year where plenty of young talent emerge among the Mounties ranks with the likes of  O'Hagan, Abbey and Liam Knight, but it's hard to look past Emre Guler after his stellar 2018 season. 

The rampaging forward made a name for himself with his hard-working efforts in defence and countless charges with the ball-in-hand, his form earning a First-Grade debut with the Raiders in Round 23, while also representing the NSW Under 20's and Junior Kangaroos. 

Emre Guler played well beyond his year in his three First-Grade appearances for the Raiders.
Emre Guler played well beyond his year in his three First-Grade appearances for the Raiders. ©NRLPhotos

There is little doubt that Guler has the makings of a future NRL star, such is his mental toughness and physical style of play, and if his performances from the Mounties are anything to go by, cementing a regular starting spot for the Raiders will come sooner rather than later.

Room For Improvement

It's hard to pinpoint a specific area of improvement considering their dominance for a majority of the season, but their defensive lapses in the later stages of the year will be a talking point as they head in to 2019. 

They built a strong foundation own defence early in the year, but couldn't maintain that same emphasis throughout the finals series, which ultimately proved the difference in their two fixtures. 

How It Will Be Remembered

There was so much promise for the Mounties as the finals series drew closer and closer, but they will look back on the 2018 season as a huge missed opportunity. 

They will take an abundance of confidence from their impressive display up until the final month of the year, and the fact they still made the second week of the finals after their late-season collapse is telling of the potential the playing squad has.