The finals hopes of pre-season favourites Canberra Raiders is on life support after losing to the Cowboys at home on Saturday night.
Coach Ricky Stuart pulled no punches in his assessment of his team's performance, noting that errors and poor discipline gave them little chance against a Cowboys side that was dominant off the back of Michael Morgan's kicking game.
"It was a very hard first half, we had a lot of defence to do and I thought we put ourselves into a position where we could still come back and win it," Stuart said.
"It was unacceptable the second half, our lack of control with the footy. I've been disappointed with some losses over the last three or four weeks and I know the effort it there, the contribution is there, but tonight we lacked any professionalism with the football and were very, very poor in the second half."
The loss, riddled with 12 errors and five penalties, has relegated the Raiders to 11th on the ladder and is a massive shock to the already wavering confidence of the side.
"It knocks your confidence around and the answer is in the sheds, with the 17 players in there and me. We've got to keep working smart. The boys are working hard enough but it's just not happening for us," Stuart said.
The coach was unwilling to put the reason for the defeat on the loss of captain Jarrod Croker, noting that other teams persevere through such injuries.
"[Injuries] happens to every team and teams work their way through it and they win. We've just got to keep grinding away, it's a very difficult period at the moment," he said.