Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said his side were left “embarrassed” and took aim at individuals within the side for not backing up their mates in the wake of a 35-10 loss to Parramatta on Saturday night.
Stuart’s frustration was clear after his side were held scoreless in the second half to gift the Eels their first win in the national capital since 2006.
Canberra were in the game at half-time courtesy of tries to Jordan Rapana and George Williams but after trailing 12-10 at the break they were totally outgunned in the second term.
“It was disappointing, we had a massive crowd and every reason to make them proud of us and we embarrassed ourselves in front of what would have been a night to make them proud of our effort and the team they support,” Stuart said.
“I feel sorry for them and feel sorry for Caleb Aekins, he didn’t deserve that tonight.”
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Aekins made his club debut filling in for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and did not put a foot wrong at the back, running for 189 metres and having three tackle breaks.
“I thought Caleb was good, he gave us a lot of opportunities in our shapes of attack and I think we had about seven or eight opportunities to score in the first half and we didn’t take those opportunities and it really hurt us,” Stuart said.
When asked if changes were likely for the trip to Townsville in round seven, Stuart remained coy and threw down the gauntlet to several unnamed players.
“There’s other individuals I feel really sorry for because they’re having a red-hot crack and they’re not getting supported,” he said.
“One hundred per cent we were (out-enthused), not the team, but individuals.
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“Don’t put everybody in the same category, but there’s individuals that were leaning on others, individuals waiting for somebody else to do it, individuals that were happy to put on an NRL jumper and think they’re an NRL player.”
Stuart took some of the blame for the loss, saying he regretted not having an utility back on the bench after Bailey Simonsson failed his HIA.
The Canberra winger did not return after the 50th minute, forcing another mid-game backline reshuffle, which has become an all too common theme in 2021.
“I’m disappointed in myself in not having Seb Kris on the bench tonight, I stuffed up,” Stuart said.
“I should have learned from last week but I have been carrying Tommy (Starling) because I have been wanting to get Tommy on the field at some stage for different types of reasons.
“But Seb Kris will be in the 17 next week somewhere, whether it’s starting centre or on the bench."
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Two tries in 10 minutes after the break to Isaiah Papalii and Shaun Lane took the game away from the Raiders and they never looked likely to close the gap with their attack seemingly looking for short-cuts.
“It looks like we had a lack of patience in attack. more so with how we shifted the ball, instead of using numbers we cut a player out or two,” Stuart said.
“Jack Wighton's drop on the line off a good play that was just an unfortunate drop.
"There were a couple of areas where we could have scored a try but at this level if you get that many opportunities in the first half, I thought that was good solid play and some of our best this year but we didn’t have that opportunity in the second half and we were embarrassed.”