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Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admits if the side performed as well as they did after the 25th minute mark against the Panthers, it could be a different predicament for the Green Machine's season.

The Raiders' finals hopes are all but over after their 2016 heroics could not be matched in 2017 with a late try to Tyrone May ending Canberra's late momentum in recent weeks. 

Stuart however was not in the mood to say the year was over, with a slim and unlikely hope the side could still sneak their way through on the back of Manly's shock-loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Penrith raced out to an eight-point lead early with the Raiders only regaining control of the match midway through the second half.

"I'm not thinking about it that way," Stuart said after the loss.

"I was really happy with the way we got back into that game. We shouldn't have been allowed to get back into it but it was an amazing effort to get back to a 22-20 lead.

"We're better than that. We didn't play well in the first 25 minutes and if we had played it like we did the remainder of it we are probably not in this position.

"There were three tries there we were disappointed with how they scored them."

Stuart also made comments after speculation a fan was ejected from the ground for attempting to spit on referee Ashley Klein at half-time. 

A coach who has expressed his frustrations with the match officials in the past, Stuart was disgusted by the act and slammed the Raiders fan involved.

"It's not on, [referees have] got a tough job and it's unacceptable. [The fan] should be punished," he said.

"[Match officials] have got a tough gig but we've all got tough gigs. We have to accept referees, they're just as important as a coach or a player."

Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker admits the Raiders will have to turn their attention to a short turnaround against the bottom-placed Knights on Friday – a side that has troubled the Green Machine of late. 

"We had plenty of momentum and got a few tries but couldn’t capitalise at the end, it was disappointing," he said.

"We'll be firing by Friday, there's no issues with that."


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