A dejected Blake Austin leaves Canberra Stadium after Monday’s loss to the Tigers. Photo: Melissa Adams Shannon Boyd of Canberra Raiders goes over for a try as James Tedesco looks on. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Most NRL teams can handle being outplayed, but too many times this year the Raiders have effectively beaten themselves with a lack of composure and impatience. Raiders coach Ricky Stuart acknowledged as much after the game, admitting his side “should have learned” from the wealth of close home losses which appear to have cost them a finals spot. Canberra is one of the league’s best attacking sides but when the game is on the line they’ve regularly being guilty of panicking and trying to score off every set. It was again the case against the Tigers. Canberra has plenty of points in them — unfortunately they’re yet to work out if they’re patient they will come. SHANNON BOYD SMASH!
The Wests Tigers will be glad they don’t come across Raiders giant Shannon Boyd again this season after he and fellow bench prop Paul Vaughan turned the game on its head when they came on midway through the first half. Vaughan ran for 128 metres off 12 runs in a devastating 20-minute burst before the break, and the Raiders thrived off the momentum he created. Canberra was down 4-0 against a sharp-looking Tigers before the young duo came on. Boyd scored Canberra’s two first-half tries to give them a 12-4 lead. In the corresponding clash at Leichhardt Oval earlier this year, Boyd scored the initial try which helped Canberra overcome a 22-0 deficit, the equal biggest comeback win in club history. Unfortunately the Raiders couldn’t capitalise on the complete dominance of their pack. BARNETT LOOKS A LIKELY TYPE
It was a bold call from Raiders coach Ricky Stuart to elevate debutant Mitch Barnett off the bench and throw him straight into the starting line-up in such an important game. It was justified with an eye-catching display from the 21-year-old back-rower. He racked up 120 metres and 24 tackles and justified his reputation for not taking a backward step toward anybody. With the emergence of Josh Papalii, Vaughan, Boyd and Luke Bateman in recent times, the Raiders pack has undergone a transformation from one of the league’s most experienced to a young and exciting one in the space of two years. HOME LOSSES COST RAIDERS DEARLY
Canberra has lost eight of its 10 home games this year, five of those by four points or less. The perception the Raiders are tough to beat at home is a myth. If they lose to in-form Manly at Canberra Stadium on Sunday, the Raiders will eclipse the inaugural 1982 side (four) for the lowest number of home wins in a season in club history. Three times they’ve been sunk by a late field goal at home — against the Bulldogs, Cowboys and the Sharks in golden point. To their credit the young side has kept fronting up but had they won even half their close games, they’d be in the top eight.
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