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Raiders centre Jarrod Croker.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart maintains only hard work will get his Raiders side free of the mini-slump they find themselves in after three straight losses.

The Raiders only surrendered the lead in the final 11 minutes against the Cowboys at Queensland Country Bank Stadium losing by just  a penalty goal in the 26-24 result for Todd Payten's team.

But it followed losses to the Panthers and Eels, with the draw not getting any easier for Canberra as fellow powerhouse clubs the Rabbitohs and Storm lie ahead in the next month.

"We just need to keep working hard and sticking together," Stuart said.

"We’ve been in this position before. We’ve just got to stick solid and work our way out of it.

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"I thought our first half was good but you’ve got to look at the big picture, don’t you, when you lose like that."

The Raiders let an 18-point lead slip in the final minute before half-time when Cowboys forward Ben Condon, in just his fourth NRL game, scored off a perfectly weighted Scott Drinkwater grubber.

Canberra put on four first-half tries - including a brace for Jordan Rapana - for a 24-12 half-time lead, but were kept scoreless in the second half.

"That first half showed we've certainly got the ability to play… but certainly there were some tries there we should have defended," Stuart said.

"There was two or three there, in all respect to the Cowboys, that I believe we’d defend every week. But tonight they got through.

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"We had three dropped balls that led to tries. We’ve got to be tough enough to defend those sorts of things," he said.

Stuart confessed he was left scratching his head as to exactly where things went wrong in the second half.

“I’d like to look at where we started every six. It just looked like we kept coming out our end of the field all that second half," he said.

“We started to lack a bit of energy because of the amount of defence we had to do, and you fall out of shape in your attack, and we lost our way.

The first half showed such promise with some sweeping attacking moves leading to three tries in 11 minutes but Stuart said it was "a completely different tale in the second half".

“We kept coming out of our 20-to-30 metre zone and they squeezed the life out of us. – they did a good job," he said.


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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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