Reality check for misfiring Raiders
It was a mid-term exam that the Raiders ultimately failed but coach Ricky Stuart is confident his team can heed the lessons from Thursday night's loss to the Broncos and come out the other side of the bye as a team capable of challenging for a place in the top four.
Canberra started brightly at Suncorp Stadium before errors cruelled their chances and they found themselves on the wrong side of a 24-0 scoreline five minutes into the second half, fighting back late to go down 26-18 in front of more than 25,000 people.
For all the power up front and exuberance out wide the Raiders are still to develop into a team capable of going toe-to-toe with the competition's elite, their only wins against top eight opposition their two victories over the Bulldogs.
On Thursday night they made 10 errors and completed at less than 65 per cent to go with 41 missed tackles but Stuart remained buoyant about their prospects should they fix the fundamentals that have been letting them down.
"I don't have to tell the boys too much in there, they know what cost them," Stuart said.
"We'll learn from that. We'll go away from that to learn from it and if we learn properly we'll get better as a team again.
"They're things that we can fix easily but we need to do it too. The boys are disappointed but you've got to take away things like that after a loss like that that are going to improve you and we've got to do it quickly.
"I'm not walking away from here all down and dejected. I know we'll learn off this tonight.
"They're a team that should be in the top four or two so we'll certainly go away and become a better football team again and very quickly from the experience tonight."
Stuart conceded in the post-match press conference that he had tweaked how the Raiders wanted to attack in their two field sessions during the week and was disappointed not to see it carried out when they enjoyed their early dominance.
"We'd changed a little bit of our attacking plan this week and it didn't eventuate," said Stuart.
"We just didn't get it on. I thought it was a really good game of footy that first 20 minutes but we only had two sessions going in and as it is with a lot of the turnarounds these days you don't get a lot of sessions. It's more about getting to the game in good physical condition.
"It could have been a little bit different in the first half if we capitalised on a little bit of field position that we had but that's where I was disappointed with our attack.
"We had a couple of little things we wanted to change in our attack and very simple things because I wouldn't change too much in a short turnaround, simple things that we didn't get on.
"Good football teams get it on, they don't wait and hope, you've got to execute it."
The edge defence that conceded three relatively soft tries to Darius Boyd also came in for criticism in the television commentary and while Jarrod Croker conceded they got some of their decision-making wrong, Stuart looked infield for where the fault lied.
"The edge of the defence will probably get the criticism but it all happened in the middle," said Stuart.
"We just gave them too quick a play-the-ball, we had too many people in the ruck and therefore we didn't have enough numbers on the edge.
"When you're playing against a player of [Boyd's] quality you can't afford to give them too quick a play-the-ball and that's what happened."