Stuart 'speechless' after another Canberra fade-out
A shell-shocked Ricky Stuart refused to blame a dubious James Maloney pass in the lead-up to Penrith's match-winning try by conceding the side's flaws to defend a lead following Canberra's 40-31 loss on Sunday afternoon.
Stuart was left stunned as the Raiders surrendered a 14-point lead at half-time, and a further 12-point advantage in the final quarter
While questions were raised post-game around the pass from Maloney to Panthers winger Josh Mansour in the 72nd minute that led to the crucial try down the stretch, the Raiders coach turned the blame onto his players.
The Canberra players were quick to depart Panthers Stadium as they are left the ponder another loss that slipped away.
"I don't know, I don't want to get embroiled into that side of it again," Stuart said of the final pass.
"I haven't spoken to them [the players] yet about [the loss]. That's just marked our season and why we're not in the eight.
"We've got to so many leads this year and should've won games. So many people ask the question why aren't you in the eight ... there's your reason.
"Because too many times we've got to wonderful leads going into half-time. We squander not just two-point, four-point leads ... we squandered a 16-point lead against the Broncos, what was that lead tonight, 14 points?
"We get to leads to win and are not good enough to hold onto leads either."
Asked how he plans to rectify the defensive lapses, Stuart offered little response.
The Raiders face the Wests Tigers next Sunday with the joint venture on a mission to keep their faint finals hopes alive.
"I'm better off worrying about that than the rest of the world," Stuart said.
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Raiders skipper Josh Hodgson credited the Panthers for the fightback but lamented another last-minute defeat.
"No, I thought they were good but I thought we were poor," Hodgson said.
"Conceding 40 points against anyone you're not going to win. As Stick said, not good enough, you can't expect to be winning games conceding that many points.
"We didn't defend our errors and penalties against us."