Raiders lapses inexcusable: Stuart
A candid Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has conceded his side will be blown off the park next week against the Brisbane Broncos if they don't address their hot and cold NRL Telstra Premiership form during matches.
The comments came after the Raiders defeated an injury-hit Sea Eagles 30-18 at home on Friday night despite leading by 24 points midway through the second half.
Canberra looked set to post a cricket score against a side boasting just 14 fit players for the final half an hour but were instead forced to settle for a much tighter win after allowing two late tries.
"If we start like we did today and finish like the way we did [when we play] Brisbane, they'll beat us by 40 points. We're not at that level yet. Next week scares me," Stuart said after the game.
"I'm really disappointed with the way we let them back into that game… it's inexcusable.
"For us to give that lead away like that was just really, really disappointing. It's not just coming from me. The boys are all disappointed too. We've discussed it and we'll work on it again next week.
"I said it last week, we have to be more consistent and play high quality footy for longer durations of the game."
The final quarter of the game spoiled what was otherwise a terrific performance from the Raiders as they ended their 12-year home hoodoo against the Sea Eagles with a third-straight win.
"I thought our first 55 minutes of football was our best football of the year," Stuart said.
"In that first half I think they completed about 15 out of 16 [sets] and they gave us absolutely nothing.
"I thought our defence was outstanding, I thought we hung in there, we played some really good football in the grind and we played some good football when it was set for set.
"We had to hang in there; it was a good quality half of football that first half. We scored a couple of tries, and so we should have. They were a couple of players down; Lyon went off, Cherry-Evans went off and we took advantage of that. We put a couple of tries on and skipped away to a lead."
Having jumped out to a 30-6 lead, the Raiders failed to score a point after that with errors and defensive lapses denying them the chance to give their for and against a timely boost midway through the year.
Instead, the Sea Eagles raced in two late tries to set up a nervy finish before very nearly adding a third in the 77th minute, only for Jack Wighton to save the day with a crucial try-saving tackle on Tom Trbojevic.
Wighton had also denied the Sea Eagles winger another opportunity to score in the first half and Stuart credited his fullback's defence for sealing the two competition points.
"That was a wonderful tackle Jack made on Trbojevic," he said.
"He basically went from a standing start to make the tackle and to pull him out over the sideline in the corner…if he scores there and kicks the goal then they're six points away."