Rabbitohs v Raiders: Five key points
The NRL's new comeback kings, South Sydney's struggles continue, and the proudest coach in the competition. The key points from Canberra's Round 8 win over the Rabbitohs at Barlow Park in Cairns.
Report: Raiders down Rabbitohs in Cairns
The Raiders are the NRL’s new comeback kings (and love playing away)
Just one week after the club’s greatest ever comeback victory, a 30-22 result against the Tigers after being 22-0 down after 25 minutes, the Raiders were at it again against South Sydney, fighting back from a 16-4 half-time deficit to score 26 second half points.
“To win like that today against a very, very good football team and take nothing [away from] Souths they dug in there, they did everything to win and getting to that lead good teams like that are hard to peg back,” Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said after the match.
Meanwhile, captain Jarrod Croker pinpointed the key difference between the two teams in the big comeback.
“Probably the weight of possession, I think we didn’t have much ball in the first half, the same as last week.
“Then we got our fair share of the ball in the second half and turned it around. I think that’s pretty simple.”
The comeback victory was also the Raiders' fourth away win of the season, while they remain winless at home.
For a side that has made GIO Stadium a graveyard in past years it is unchartered territory for the Raiders to be performing better on the road.
Coach Stuart suggested it could be down to how much his players enjoy spending time together.
“We enjoy getting away and enjoy each other's company and I think it showed at the back end of the game, the boys stuck together.”
South Sydney are struggling with opposing teams stepping up against them
For the third-straight week the Bunnies have fallen victim to an opposition team pulling out their best performance of the year.
And for coach Michael Maguire the difference is in the completion rate, for the second week running he has labelled that factor as the difference in the match.
“If you're not completing high it makes the game very difficult, it takes the control of the game back to the Raiders,” Maguire said.
“They completed around 95 per cent, every team keeps turning up completing high against us and we need to make sure that we’re doing that. Simple.”
The Raiders completed at a still-impressive 85 per cent, whereas the Bunnies were once again disappointing with 65 per cent.
“What we need to do is complete and do the jobs we set out to do which we know we’re capable of doing, it’s just a matter of doing that,” Maguire said.
Shannon Boyd is a powerhouse ball runner
Alongside key off-season acquisition and Man of the Match Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Shannon Boyd was once again a standout up front for the Raiders.
Nicknamed ‘Piggy’ by teammates for his love of food and hunting feral bores, the 122kg Boyd is one of the most solidly built forwards in the NRL, at just 22 years of age.
Just one week after sparking the Raiders' huge comeback victory over the Tigers with a barnstorming midfield run and try, Boyd was at it again in Cairns.
With his side 16-4 down at the start of the second half Boyd took the ball up and refused to be bought down, pushing off and charging over Souths defenders to slam the ball over the line.
Labelled by Phil Gould as one of the big bowling-ball style forwards coming through the ranks, Boyd finished the match with 11 runs for 100 metres and five tackle busts.
South Sydney will bounce back soon
After winning the first three games to begin their premiership defence South Sydney have fallen into a hole of sorts, winning just once since Round 4, a one-point Round 5 victory over the Bulldogs.
For a number of the Bunnies’ ultra successful young guns, this patch of form is unchartered territory, but they shouldn’t be worried considered the quality of leadership they have around them.
“Greg and myself have been through periods like this in a season and it’s about how you react and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” Maguire said post-match.
“We’ll stand strong through this period.”
With a number of key players on the sidelines, and yet more carrying niggling injuries, the Bunnies will surely bounce back to their brilliant best soon as they regain their injured brigade.
However Sunday afternoon’s game did no favours for Michael Maguire’s playing stocks.
“There’s probably a bit of a cloud over Dylan Walker and Luke Keary at the moment,” he said.
“They’ve been carrying a few bumps and bruises but they managed to get another one tonight.
“Keary has had a few ongoing things that have been affecting him, he doesn’t use those as excuses but he’s struggling at the moment.”
Ricky Stuart is the proudest coach in the NRL
Win, lose or draw Ricky Stuart is always proud of his team. He never doubts their commitment and often mentions how much of a pleasure it is to coach his group of men.
And after a second straight great come-from-behind team performance, Stuart was prouder than ever with his charges.
“I’m very, vey proud to coach the club and coach this group of players,” Stuart said after the match.
“Whether we win or lose I’m very, very proud.
“Good things will come if we keep that kind of attitude around the joint,” he said.
Not one to hide his emotions, the Canberra coach was once again pacing the sidelines on Sunday afternoon, riding every play like the most passionate fan in the competition.