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'Lucky' and 'loose' but Stuart applauds courage under fire

Ricky Stuart felt his scrappy Raiders were very fortunate to beat the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday but he's glad it didn't take a loss to "jolt" the team awake.

Coming off brave wins against the Roosters and Rabbitohs, a depleted Canberra started slowly against North Queensland but John Bateman and Curtis Scott combined to help deliver a favourable 14-12 result.

The Cowboys scored the first try before regaining the lead early in the second half and Stuart knows his team could easily be making the long trip back to the nation's capital empty-handed.

"I thought we were very loose in a lot of our footy and we were very lucky to win. I don't think we deserved to win, but we found a way to win at the end and that was the important thing," Stuart said.

"From my point of view, I suppose it's nice not to have a loss to jolt you back into gear. It's a hard road trip up here."

Stuart acknowledged the Raiders, who struggled for attacking fluency, were well below their best, but said the Cowboys applied the pressure.

"They're certainly playing with a lot of spirit," Stuart said of North Queensland interim coach Josh Hannay's side.

Match Highlights: Cowboys v Raiders

He added of his troops: "They knew they weren't playing well and they hung tough. If they weren't a tough football team, we get beaten tonight. If they didn't prepare the way they prepared this week for the road trip up here then we get beaten."

Bateman was crucial in his first action of the season after a shoulder injury. The second-rower had a hand in both tries and formed a slick right-edge union with halfback George Williams and centre Scott.

"That's what happens when you've got a little bit of class in your squad," Stuart said.

"It came off Johnny Bateman there and Curtis did a really good job to actually get the ball down [for our second try]. The good players make the best of a limited opportunity, that's what makes them so good.

"Having Johnny Bateman back there this week really stiffened that right edge up."

Former Bulldogs forward Corey Harawira-Naera punched out 31 minutes in a second-half stint featuring three carries for 31 metres as well as 13 tackles in his first NRL match of 2020. 

"I was actually very - not surprised - I was very pleased for him," Stuart said of the mid-season signing.

"I was concerned all week about playing him too early because he hasn't had a lot of training, but he handled the speed and intensity of the game really well and he actually had some really good carries.

"He took a little bit of a load off the boys with some of his real good, strong carries and he came on with the right enthusiasm and energy at that point of the game, so that was very important for us."

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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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