Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said his side has started to rediscover some of its lost “mojo” after Canberra secured just their second home victory of the season, thumping the Brisbane Broncos by 22 at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
Canberra’s inconsistent season to date, highlighted by second-half fade outs, sees them on the outside of the top eight looking in.
While Stuart knows there is still much work to be done if the Raiders are to play in the post-season, Saturday night’s 38-16 victory over the Broncos could be the jump start they need.
“We need a spoonful of that in there not to get a feeling of what it (winning) was like,” Stuart said.
“We needed to play well tonight to get that mojo, to get that feeling again.
“We had our young blokes follow the lead and they stood up and played well and that’s what good teams do.
Match: Raiders v Broncos
Round 14 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
“We’re nowhere near out of the woods, but that’s a good start.”
Canberra skipped out to a 22-4 lead after 32 minutes and looked in total control as a wasteful Brisbane side too often turned over possession before they could launch a successful attacking raid.
A brilliant individual try to Tesi Niu just before the break did give the Raiders some reason to look over their shoulder after half-time.
But two tries in five minutes to Josh Papalii and Semi Valemei helped ease tensions of another possible blown half-time lead for Canberra.
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“You look at the two tries Brisbane scored against us they were through not executing our fundamentals, they got the football and they scored,” Stuart said.
“So, I see that and I can understand why they were in that end of the field, but then we kicked and bounced back again.
“We haven’t gone away, we’ve just lost a little of our mojo in getting our game on, but it’s simple.”
Centre Matt Timoko was outstanding for the Raiders, running for 114 metres off 11 runs while earning a line break, five tackle breaks and a try assist.
“He was so good tonight, and I was so happy for him because he’s been on the fringe for a little while now and like every young player they get their chance they take that opportunity and he did that tonight,” Stuart said of the 21-year-old.
Bailey Simonsson earned praise for his new-look role at fullback along with veteran half Sam Williams, whose silky ball skills put several teammates into gaps.
“We’re very fortunate to have that type of intelligence from a footy brain, he’s a smart organiser and we feel fortunate to have somebody there who’s been a back-up to our seven and six over the last few years,” Stuart said of Williams.
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“I know the players love playing with him and they respect him.”
Williams' solid play could not come at a better time for the Raiders who are possibly on the lookout for a long-term replacement for George Williams, who was released earlier this season from his contract.
However, Stuart again poured cold water on speculation star Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson will join his opponent on Saturday night in the Broncos.
“I’m very happy to have Hodgo here, he’s on contract to us,” he said.
“I keep hearing it (the rumours), but I don’t take any action on it, I don’t talk to Hodgo about it, he’s here and I’m the lucky one because he’s a brilliant player and he’s a big part of our football team.”