Rugby League


Canberra Raiders hell-bent on avoiding wooden spoon

 It's a place the Canberra Raiders haven't been for 1119 days - on the bottom of the NRL ladder.

That streak could come to an end if they lose to a Gold Coast Titans side without suspended NSW star Greg Bird at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.

Raiders prop Paul Vaughan believes the side can take plenty of confidence from its narrow defeat to the Tigers as its aims to kickstart its season.

Having lost seven of their past eight games, the Raiders (4-11) are 15th on the table with 12 competition points, level with the 14th-placed Newcastle Knights and the last-placed Cronulla Sharks.

The Knights have a for and against of -97, just ahead of the Raiders (-119) and the Sharks (-157).

However, the Sharks can leapfrog both of their nearest rivals for the dreaded wooden spoon when they host the Knights on Sunday.


Vaughan said having the week off for the bye had refreshed the squad after the 19-18 loss to the Tigers the week before.

"We were pretty unlucky not to get the win,'' Vaughan said.

"I was happy with the boys' effort and it was a really tight game.

"We can take a lot of confidence out of that game, we're all refreshed and happy to be back at training this week and hopefully we can get the win over the Titans.''

It would be the first time the Raiders have been in last place on the ladder since round 14 in 2011 after they lost 25-24 to the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

The Raiders spent just seven days on the bottom before they finished that season in 15th place ahead of the Titans.

It kept the club's foundation year in 1982 as the only time the Raiders have claimed the wooden spoon.

They are the favourites with betting agency TAB Sportsbet at $2.10 to finish this season with the most losses, just ahead of the Sharks ($2.20) with the Knights at $6.

Their immediate focus is on the Titans and trying to win just the club's second game in seven attempts on the Gold Coast.

Controlling the impressive Titans forward pack will go a long way to the Raiders collecting the two competition points.

The Titans have been dealt a blow with Bird set to miss this weekend's game after being charged with a lifting tackle in the 32-8 loss to Queensland on Wednesday night.

They are set to have Queensland pair Nate Myles and David Taylor back up and take on the Raiders.

Vaughan said keeping Taylor under check would prove to be a difficult challenge, but one his side was looking forward to.

"We've got to keep up in his face, have good line speed and really try and shut him down nice and early and make sure he doesn't have too much confidence after last night's game,'' Vaughan said.

"The Titans are coming off a pretty good win against the Rabbitohs the other night, so we're happy to go up there and give them a pretty strong game.

"I'm sure we'll get our season back on line this weekend and make a charge to the finals.''