Stuart takes aim at wasteful Raiders
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart reacts during the Round 14 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers at GIO Stadium in Canberra, Friday, June 8, 2018. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes his team's inability to hold leads is the reason why they have flopped against every top eight team they have faced this NRL season.
The Raiders tossed away a 14-point lead against Penrith on Sunday to fall 40-31 and make it nine losses in nine games against top-eight teams so far this year.
A frustrated Stuart bit his tongue when asked about what appeared to be a forward pass for the Panthers' go-ahead try midway through the second half at Panthers Stadium.
"I don't want to get embroiled in that side of it again," Stuart said.
Instead the Raiders legend was left to rue another wasted advantage due to a combination of poor defensive lapses and game management.
Nine of the Raiders' 12 losses this year have also been by ten points or less.
"That's just marked our season, that's why we're not in the eight," Stuart said.
"People ask the question why we're not in the eight. Too many times we've had wonderful leads going into halftime.
"We squander not just two but four-point leads, 16-point leads against the (Brisbane) Broncos, 14 against Penrith tonight. People say we can't beat top-eight teams.
"We're just not good enough."
Asked if he could figure out why the Raiders struggled to close out games, he said: I can."
Pressed further on what answers he could come up with, he said: "I'm better off worrying about that than the rest of the world."
Raiders stand-in captain Josh Hodgson said their struggles in defence was at the heart of their recent problems.
"Obviously 40 points against anybody, you're not going to win," he said.
"As Stick (Stuart) said, not good enough. We can't expect to win many games if we conceded that many points. We didn't defend our errors, we didn't defend penalties against us."
© AAP 2018