Stuart still searching for the 'perfect' performance from error-ridden Canberra
Canberra might be playing for pride in 2018, but coach Ricky Stuart is refusing to blame injuries for their heavy loss to Melbourne on Saturday night at AAMI Park.
Stuart took the extraordinary step of naming the injured Michael Oldfield just to fill extended squad of 21, with the utility back set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The Raiders are also missing top-liners Jack Wighton (stood down on disciplinary grounds), Shannon Boyd (round 21), Aidan Sezer (round 21-22), while young half Ata Hingano and captain Jarrod Croker are also sidelined.
"It's a little bit hard at the moment with so many injuries," Stuart said when reflecting on the 44-10 defeat.
"I had to name a bloke that is out for six weeks, he's out for the season, and I had to name him (to fill his extended squad). But Michael Oldfield is out for the season now. We're in a difficult position at the moment. It's not an excuse, it happens. Unfortunately it's just a bad run of injuries we have."
Stuart said his team needed to play a "perfect" game to have any chance of upsetting the first-placed Storm.
"We were going have to be perfect tonight if we were going to win," he said.
"With the changes that we had - I've got a couple of blokes out of position, a front-rower, and guys who play front-row, playing centre. We knew that we were going to have to be very good, and things were going to have to go our way if we were a chance. "
The visitors only completed one from their first five sets and never recovered.
"Same as always. Too many penalties and too many errors," Stuart lamented.
"It was hard after the start of the game to make it difficult for us to get into it."
The Raiders have had a season of near misses in 2018, losing winnable games against Cronulla, St George Illawarra and Brisbane after leading.
When asked about his assessment of their season, Stuart felt these early losses had proved costly for their finals hopes.
"Obviously we'd like to be winning a few games that I thought we should have won early in the season, and be in a better position on the ladder, but we haven't,'' he said.