- What we learned: Roosters v Raiders
- How the match unfolded
- Raiders threaten to cut funding from Souths Logan
The Canberra Raiders have slumped to their fourth loss from the past five games, going down to the Sydney Roosters 26-12 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The reigning NRL premiers were never troubled as they sprinted away to a 24-point lead early in the second half before two late tries to the Raiders restored some credibility to the scoreboard.
It was a thud back to the earth for the Raiders, who snapped a three-game losing streak in smashing a State of Origin-depleted North Queensland Cowboys 42-12 last weekend at Canberra Stadium.
The Raiders are 14th on the ladder with a 4-8 record and can already begin planning for next season unless there is a drastic rise in form in the remaining 12 games of the year.
After having conceded 54 points in massive defeats to the Warriors and Manly this season, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was pleased his side fought out the game to the end.
"We're disappointed with the scoreline, but I see a squad of players there improving,'' Stuart said.
"That scoreline at half-time, a team that lacks a bit of heart and cameraderie, team spirit, I believe the Roosters would have gone on with it.
"It was a very, very committed performance against a classy football team.
"They didn't (fluke) winning the competition last year, they're an absolute class group of players and what we did tonight I thought showed improvement in where we're going and a fair bit of courage and commitment.''
The Raiders have had mixed success in improving their roster for next season.
.They secured the marquee signing of Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco on a three-year deal worth a reported $1.9 million, and are still in the mix for Penrith winger Josh Mansour.
However, the Raiders missed out on Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis when they decided against giving the 30-year-old a three-year contract and went close to luring Kiwi international Kevin Proctor away from the Melbourne Storm.
The Raiders were only prepared to give Ennis a two-year deal, with the former NSW Origin rake set to sign with Cronulla instead.
Halfback Mitch Cornish again impressed when he came off the bench for the final 20 minutes as Jack Wighton and Paul Vaughan crossed for the Raiders to add respectability to the scoreboard.
Despite having a completion rate above 80 per cent in the first half, the Raiders were made to pay for a couple of costly errors as the Roosters scored after Reece Robinson and Anthony Milford dropped high balls close to their line.
"There were some little areas in that [first] half, a couple of catches in regards to kicks, a couple of penalties they scored off,'' Stuart said.
"That was why at half-time I was upbeat and spoke about the areas I thought we could improve on.
"The biggest thing was we had to stay in the game with the commitment we showed to each other in the first half.
"There were just little things that cost us points.''
Roosters winger Daniel Tupou scored a hat-trick just three days after making his State of Origin debut with the Blues, while the sacked NSW halves pairing of James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce controlled the game with precision.
Raiders captain Terry Campese hopes his side can carry the improved second 40 minutes into their next match against the Brisbane Broncos in a Monday night encounter at Canberra Stadium on June 9.
"I thought we played some good footy in the second half,'' Campese said.
"We completed our sets and it was a big step going forward.
"It was hard going down 18-0 at half-time, but the way we fought was a big step going forward next week.''
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 26 (Daniel Tupou 3, James Maloney tries; Maloney 5 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 (Jack Wighton, Paul Vaughan tries; Jarrod Croker 2 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Referees: Gerard Sutton, Jared Maxwell. Crowd: 11,815.