Teams target us now: Stuart
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says opposition teams are preparing better for what his men throw at them and it was only up to the Raiders to improve on their misfortunes after their third-straight defeat, their latest loss at the hands of Newcastle on Sunday.
The Knights' shock 14-point win was even more incredible with the fact they were able to keep the Raiders forward pack at bay and in-form winger Jordan Rapana quiet despite a strong possession count against them in the first half.
After a 2016 season where the Green Machine would consistently blow sides off the park, Stuart said it was different this time around and his side is still learning how to overcome the tight games.
"Everyone expects that when we got into that game in the first 10 [minutes of the second half] that you think "oh, here they come, they’ll just run away with it now," he said post-game.
"I said three or four weeks ago that we’re not going to come out and blow teams away like we did last year.
"Teams improve and teams prepare better for you so we've got to keep improving too.
"We've got to be better than last year because teams are hunting us now too."
With only four wins after 10 rounds, the Raiders will need to hit form in the coming weeks to get themselves back into finals contention at the backend of the season but Stuart wasn't in a mood to panic.
"It was always going to be a tougher season this year," Stuart said.
"And it's a very good education for a very young bunch.
"When we were blowing teams away last year and surprising everybody – except for ourselves – opposition teams get up for you and are ready to hunt you down so it makes it tougher.
"But your good teams… they've had that kind of opposition for many years so it's a part of our growth and our learning experience.
"After our season last year teams are seeing our attack as a real benchmark, so they work real hard defensively on strategies and solutions on how to work against that."
Stuart fell short of saying the side were simply not up for the contest after a 69 percent completion rate and 13-7 error count against them.
"If we had the same enthusiasm and energy in the previous game [against the Bulldogs] we would have won, it wasn't that," he said.
"We're certainly not going to try and find an excuse if it's not there.
"We're just not winning our footy games after we lost a close one to Manly, we were very poor the week after [against Canterbury] and tonight a better team beat us."
Canberra face a six-day turnaround and are on the road again this Saturday when they face a Parramatta Eels outfit that was thrashed 48-10 against the Sydney Roosters.