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Raiders prop Josh Papalii.

Born out of the bitter disappointment of the close losses that haunted the Canberra Raiders in 2018 is a side with a renewed resolve.

That is the summation of this year's Raiders squad according to Ricky Stuart in the wake of his side hanging on to win 17-10 over the Newcastle Knights at GIO Stadium.

Leading by a converted try with 16 minutes remaining, it was exactly the type of contest the Raiders too often ended up on the wrong side of in 2018.

However, a Sam Williams field goal four minutes from time put the Knights to bed and secured Canberra its second win for the year.

"When the boys came back to pre-season work this year I noticed more maturity in a lot of the individuals that needed it," Stuart said.

Match Highlights: Raiders v Knights

"There was a disgruntled feeling of not making the semis and I reckon that's been two real key ingredients for the work that's been completed in the off-season.

"I don't know how many games we had last year when we capitulated at the back end.

"Not to say we're going to win all of them but it's nice to get a situation tonight where we came out on the right side of the board."

John Bateman continued to show why he is an early front-runner for buy of the season, with the Englishman dangerous with the ball in hand an exceptionally busy in defence.

The 25-year-old racked up 190 metres off 16 runs, two line breaks, 10 tackle breaks and 41 tackles.

Raiders back-rower John Bateman.
Raiders back-rower John Bateman. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"John's a very influential fella around the group, similar to Elliott (Whitehead), regarding their toughness and their competitiveness to win," Stuart said.

"I love the four Pommies I've got because they're footy players, and there's a difference between certain footy players and others.

"Some have to win, some try."

Sam Williams was called into the side at late notice to cover for the injured Aidan Sezer and stepped up as rain turned the game into an arm-wrestle in the second half.

"He was my man of the match and there were some great players out there tonight," Stuart said.

"He steered the ship around really well, he got a lot of negativity last year regarding some defensive situations and he had a bigassignment tonight on (Kalyn) Ponga."

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's meteoric rise from New Zealand Warriors fringe player to starting fullback continued as he bagged a double and was busy around the field for the Raiders.  

"I didn't know a lot about Charnze, I'll have to give (assistant coach) Andrew McFadden a lot of credit there," Stuart said when asked if Friday's performance was what he expected when the club signed him.

"He spoke to me about the quality of the kid and that was a tough game tonight, it wasn't a flairy, attractive environment to play in tonight. 

Nicoll-Klokstad's double guides Raiders past Knights

"He's been a wonderful addition to the squad and to the club."

Stuart also heaped praise on five-eighth Jack Wighton for putting a couple of kicking errors behind him and getting on with the job.

"What I was happy about with Jack was, he made some crucial errors tonight and he would have lost his way six or 12 months ago," he said.

"He's really grown up and Jack's next actions after making an error hasn't been his highest quality.

"But now he's able to leave that mistake and move on to the next execution and he did that well tonight."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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