Finals not out of reach: Raiders
They can't get there without some slip-ups from the two teams directly ahead of them but Raiders players insist that they are not daunted by the prospect of having to win their last six games of the season in order to qualify for finals footy this year.
The fallout from last Saturday's 20-14 loss to the Storm centred predominantly on the criticism of the match officials by coach Ricky Stuart but the reality facing those in Canberra is that they have just seven wins through 20 rounds of the season and have run out of second chances.
Wins by the Dragons and Panthers on the weekend have put them six and four points clear of Canberra respectively with six games to play, the Raiders needing to get through the Rabbitohs, Sharks and Warriors before a Round 24 showdown with Penrith.
Saturday's loss to the Storm was Canberra's seventh by six points or less this year yet despite their precarious position players such as Luke Bateman believe they can rescue themselves from the dire predicament they find themselves in.
"It's definitely become desperate. Now we're looking at six from six which as a playing group we don't see as unrealistic. We see it as extremely tough but definitely not unrealistic," Bateman said.
"We're definitely under-performing and we know our season should be looking better than it is right now.
"It's definitely one of the most trying times that we've been through as a playing group. To have such a good year last year and be losing games really closely and competing in every game is a credit to the playing group.
"No one turns on each other or anything like that and the boys have stuck really solid through some trying times.
"It's a bit of a learning curve at the moment but the boys have always got each other's backs."
Prior to their win over the Dragons in Round 19 the Raiders had been mired in a four-game losing streak but hooker Kurt Baptiste insists that if they maintain the effort they have played with all season that they can finish with a wet sail.
"Every week we pride ourselves on our effort and that's been there pretty much all season," Baptiste said.
"Although we haven't been getting the results we've been always putting in.
"All we can do is try and win every game from now on.
"It's a tough position we've put ourselves in. We've only got ourselves to blame for that but looking forward, looking ahead, we've just got to focus on this week, prepare well and hopefully get the win.
"We're not giving up. We're just taking it week to week. All we can do from here is try to win every game and everything will take care of itself."
Making the Raiders' assignment this Saturday all the more difficult is the likely unavailability of three of their best players with Sia Soliola to face the judiciary on Tuesday night and Jordan Rapana and Josh Papalii already suspended.
"Those guys are really big parts of our squad," said Baptiste. "If we miss those guys it will be tough but we've all got confidence whoever will be put in the squad, whoever Ricky calls up, will do the job for us."
Added Bateman: "We're lucky that we've got plenty of squad depth.
"Mounties had a convincing win on the weekend over the No.1 team in the NSW Cup so they're playing really well and we've got players in there that will make the step up easy.
"I'm sure the payers that get called upon will be more than ready."