Three tries in sin-bin period killed us: Stuart
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said his side had to battle hard for an hour to try and undo the damage done in just seven minutes in his side's 22-20 loss to the Wests Tigers.
After a close opening stanza, the Tigers blew the game open when they capitalised on the sin-binning of Joey Leilua for a professional foul.
In a flash the away side were up by 16 points and the story of recent lop-sided victories in favour of the Raiders against the Tigers looked set to be drastically reversed.
"It killed us, being 16-0 when Joey came back onto the field and for us to hang in there and get back into the game I thought was a really big effort," Stuart said.
"I know I'm going to get the effort every week no matter what the situation that's why I enjoy coaching them because they're giving 100% at every moment.
"That's why you still get 14,500 people out here supporting them because they know they've got a lot of ticker and they're playing for the jumper and that's something in the culture.
"But still it doesn't subtract from any of the disappointment."
A Josh Papalii try just before half-time gave the home side stopped the rot and gave them a chance.
However, penalties given away at crucial times and a kicking game that often did not ask enough questions of the Tigers' back three saw the away side sneak away with a crucial two competition points to keep their finals chances alive.
"At half-time being 10 points behind we said we'd take that because we knew if we stuck to the plan we could get close again and we didn't have to do anything stupid," Canberra captain Josh Hodgson said.
"We probably gave away penalties in a couple of key moments which hurt."
Canberra suffered several late changes with Aidan Sezer forced out of the game with his troublesome hamstring strain.
"It's been iffy all week and it was iffy the week before," Stuart said of Sezer.
"Our attack is very disjointed at the moment and we're still getting ourselves in a position to win.
"It's a wait and see, given it's a hamstring, I'm not too fussed with Aidan to be quite honest, Sam (Williams) and Blake (Austin) are doing a job for us."
Stuart lamented the lack of a settled starting 13 this season, particularly the absence of Hodgson for the first half of the year, saying with their full complement of players the fortunes of the Raiders could have been drastically different.
"It's not an excuse but it's been a factor of our season, Josh is as important to us as Cameron Smith is to Melbourne and we've had 14 weeks of having to put up with that," he said.
"Losing our fullback, which is no fault of anybody but ours and Jack's, again that's your Billy Slater to your Melbourne.
"That's why they're hanging around the top four and we're around 10th, they've been two massive blows to us."
Joe Tapine starred in a losing side while Stuart praised the continued effort from Nick Cotric as his trial by fire at fullback continues.
"I really feel for young Nick, he's really doing some kilometres out there on the field at the moment and it's purely through desire and want," he said.
"More so probably defensively, it's a big job today in the game in regard to being a very vocal of numbers in the defensive line.
"Something we're working overtime with Nick, but as a young, inexperienced fullback it's a really big job for him, I feel for him."