The Canberra Raiders Toyota Cup side will look to bounce back this week against the North Queensland Cowboys after registering what Captain Mitchell Cornish described as their worst performance of the year last week against the West Tigers.
The young Raiders lead 10-4 after thirty minutes in the first half before the West Tigers piled on thirty six unanswered points.
Cornish believed that the catalysts for the teams point’s leakage were a dismal completion rate and poor contact in defence around the ruck area.
“It was definitely our worst performance of the year so far,” said Cornish.
“I think we went into the game too relaxed and got a bit comfortable with where we were at. Our control of the football and completion rate was terrible; we had something like a 40% completion rate. You won’t go anywhere near winning a rugby league game with that sort of statistic.”
“After the game Dunners [Coach Andrew Dunemann] went back to the fact that we were our own worst enemy by dropping the ball and being soft in tackles. We let them walk all over us really.”
While the outcome of the Tigers fixture left a sour taste in the side’s mouth, Cornish believes that it will act as a timely wakeup call and a reiteration that no side can afford to be complacent in their standing in the Toyota Cup.
“The game last Monday was the kick up the bum that we needed to get back on track.”
The Cowboys, last year’s Grand Finalists, have struggled so far this year and will be looking to break their three game losing streak.
After beating the Titans 34-26 in round one the Cowboys have lost their last three straight games to the Brisbane Broncos, Parramatta Eels and Cronulla Sharks.
These consecutive defeats has seen the Townsville based side slip to 13th on the under-20s ladder, with Canberra just one place above them after four rounds.
Cornish has highlighted the battle between the two team’s fullbacks as a key matchup in the clash.
“I don’t really know too much about the Cowboys’ new players but we’re definitely not going to take them lightly,” said the Goulburn Bulldogs junior.
“The matchup between the two fullbacks Wayne Ulugia and Jack Ahearn will be an interesting clash though. Jacko’s coming back from injury and he’s starting to find his straps again and their fullback is obviously one of their best players. I’m sure Jacko will be keen to match it against him.”
While battle between the two fullbacks will be an intriguing spectacle, it is imperative that the Green Machine’s impressive forwards stand up and be counted on Monday night as they will be highly instrumental for the side to win, particularly unsung heroes Tim Sloman and Shane Duck.
“It’s hugely important for our forwards to step up this week and improve our ruck defence. I’ve been really impressed with Tim Sloman actually. He comes off the bench for us and his work rate along with Shane Duck is phenomenal. They’re not the biggest front rowers but jeez they get through some work and put their bodies on the line.”
The match kicks off on Monday at 4:45pm at Canberra Stadium.