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Ricky urges Raiders to stay strong and stick together

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said tough times are when true character is revealed as the Raiders season plunged to new depths after being run down by Newcastle 24-16 in Wagga Wagga.

It’s been nearly seven years since the Raiders lost five on the trot, with the Canberra side of 2014 not winning between rounds 19-23.

The form slump looked set to be broken on Saturday at McDonalds Park, as Canberra established a solid 16-0 lead at the break.

But the second-half fade-outs which have haunted Canberra this year reared once more as they gave up four unanswered Newcastle tries.

Incredibly, Canberra has now been outscored 93-8 in second halves over the past five weeks coinciding with the losing streak.

Match Highlights: Raiders v Knights

"My concern is for the boys, just making sure we handle it and stick together and keep working to get through this rough patch," Stuart said.

"I think it was four times we were over the line, or nearly over the line, and when you don’t have anything going for you and you’re going through patches like this, it just seems to pile on top of each other."

Stuart has criticised some of his players efforts at this season, particularly after their round six loss to Parramatta (35-10).

However, Stuart said it’s more 50-50 calls that are partly contributing to some of their recent losses not just the effort from the 17 players named each week.

Rapana puts Tapine into a hole

"I wasn’t fired up (after the game), I can't get fired up over a bunch of blokes who are doing everything they possibly can to play their best and win a game of football," he said.

"Things aren’t going the best at the moment, we won games like that last year when we got some luck and the bounce of the ball."

The Raiders left to rue several close chances which could have swung the momentum of the game in the second half, when the Knights started on fire and barely relented.

Fullback Caleb Aekins just failed to ground a grubber in the in-goal and centre Seb Kris was held up over the line with an unmarked player on his outside. They were just two of the missed opportunities for the Raiders.

They were also close to scoring when Josh Papalii made a clean line break with his grubber ahead not finding George Williams in support.

In what would prove one of their last real chances to snatch back the lead, an attempted kick back on the inside after Jordan Rapana made a clean break down the right wing was also easily diffused by the Knights defence.

"I don't think it's composure (thats the problem), Papa (Papalii) kicks ahead to George (Williams) and it bounces the right way, and it bounces into his arm," Stuart said.

Williams floats a pass over the defence to Simonsson

"Like when Rapa made that break down the sideline, we are just not getting that little bit of luck and not getting a bounce at the moment, but we have to persevere and stay strong."

Papalii made a strong return from his week off with his leadership in the middle certain to be needed again next week especially as injury could force more changes for the Raiders trip to Brisbane for Magic Round.

Ryan Sutton (elbow), Tapine (medial knee ligament) and Rapana (hamstring) will need to prove their fitness if they are to travel to Queensland.

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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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