Substance over style for defensive-minded Raiders
If the Raiders are going to dig their way out of their early-season slump and claim a finals berth, captain Jarrod Croker believes it will be on the back of their work without the ball.
Canberra have long been known as one of the most exciting teams in the Telstra Premiership, but their defensive deficiencies prevented them from securing a victory in the first month of the season.
The Raiders appear to be back on track after three wins in their past four games and are within touching distance of the top eight heading into their round nine home clash with the Titans.
Knowing his team have racked up 100 points in their last three games against Gold Coast, Croker said the key to victory on Saturday will be their defensive attitude in the opening exchanges.
''The way we defended against the Cowboys and those last two home games here, we've set a benchmark,'' Croker said.
''We speak about defending well and showing up with the right attitude and we've shown in those games with the right defensive attitude, we're a pretty hard team to beat.''
Helping Canberra's chances is coach Ricky Stuart again naming an unchanged 21-man squad.
The away trip for Gold Coast holds few fears given they have won four of their last five games in the nation's capital.
Canberra lost a heart-breaker to the Titans in round one, going down 30-28 in the dying stages after jumping out to a seemingly safe 24-6 lead.
The Raiders know anything less than an 80-minute effort in Saturday's re-match could prove costly.
''We certainly don't train to be the side that scores the most points and doesn't worry about defence. We want to be a good defensive side,'' Croker said.
''In three of the last four games we've done it pretty well, but we had an off game against Souths which was pretty ordinary. So we need to start well defensively and if we can do that we'll be in the game.''
Saturday's clash could double as a scouting missing for Titans coach Garth Brennan, who has expressed a desire to sign Shannon Boyd for 2019 if Jarrod Wallace leaves the club.
Croker said Boyd and the rest of the side's off-contract stars have not let negotiations hamper their bid for finals football.
''The boys that are off contract have handled themselves really well and it hasn't been a distraction for them so therefore it hasn't been a distraction for the team,'' he said.
''Everybody wants to get their futures sorted out as soon as they can, and it will be nice when that happens, but the boys have handled themselves really well.''