Rugby League


Fans turn off Raiders as injuries mount against victorious Warriors

Frustrated Raiders fans voted with their feet as club chief executive Don Furner admitted it would be a hard sell to entice supporters through the turnstiles for their final three home games of the season.

A meagre crowd of just 7094 – Canberra's lowest of the year – in fine, sunny conditions saw the Raiders belted off the park 54-18 by the New Zealand Warriors.

Fans headed for the exit before the final siren as an injury-depleted Raiders slumped to their 14th loss from 19 games this year.

Potentially season-ending injuries to lock Shaun Fensom (knee), prop David Shillington (pectoral muscle) and replacement hooker Kurt Baptiste (shoulder), along with a rib complaint to captain Terry Campese, capped off a horror afternoon.

The Raiders will assess those injuries before they consider lodging an application for a second-tier salary cap exemption with the NRL.

It's going to be an extremely tough sell to get Raiders fans along for their remaining Canberra Stadium fixtures – round 23 against the St George Illawarra Dragons, round 25 against the Wests Tigers and round 26 against the Parramatta Eels.


Furner praised the supporters who backed up six days after Monday night's 34-18 loss to South Sydney, but said the team's current form would make it difficult to fill the stands.

 "Just come out and ask them to please show some faith in us and hopefully they do,'' Furner said.

''They're real fans out there today, backing up in the cold. No one likes to get beaten like that, not at home.

''Hopefully the fans will come back for the last couple of weeks, but it's hard to get them up.''

The Raiders started the season with a couple of promising wins, most notably on the road against South Sydney, but have tailed off noticeably in the past three months to be in contention for the dreaded wooden spoon.

''We get a few injuries, lack of confidence ... it compounds a little bit. It's a very frustrating year for everybody,'' Furner said.

''We can play better than that. 'We're not that different a team on paper to the team at the start of the year.''

The Raiders will struggle to put a fit team on the park for next Saturday night's trip to Darwin to face the Eels.

Furner said the Raiders would see what positions they needed to fill before applying for a salary cap exemption after being denied rookie Jeremy Hawkins earlier in the year.

Fensom left the field in the first half with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament that the Raiders are hoping is a minor strain.

Shillington suffered a pectoral injury in the second half, with scans on Monday to determine whether he has torn it for the third time in four years.

''It's definitely three for the season, hopefully Fenno won't be as bad,'' Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

''It's just one of those days, the longer it went on the worse it got in regards to injuries and performance.''

Campese said of his injury: "I just popped something underneath my ribs, so not sure.

''I'll have scans tomorrow, but it doesn't feel too crash hot.''


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