Warriors 54 Raiders 18
The Incredible Hulk they are not: Canberra's team after conceding yet another try to the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images
- As it happened: Raiders v Warriors
- What we learned from the match
- Club pleads for fans to stick solid
The Canberra Raiders nightmare season reached an embarrassing new low with an insipid 54-18 home loss to New Zealand that centre Jarrod Croker described as “garbage”.
And the carnage extended to the injury front, with prop David Shillington (pectoral), Shaun Fensom (anterior cruciate ligament) and Kurt Baptiste (shoulder) expected to miss the rest of the season.
Sealed with a kiss: Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell scores against the Raiders. Photo: Getty Images
Skipper Terry Campese may join them after suffering a rib injury he admitted ‘’doesn’t feel too crash hot’’.
Some Raiders fans booed their team off the field at half-time after one of the most inept 40 minutes by any side this season.
Canberra is optimistic Fensom may have escaped with a minor strain. They’ll have their fingers crossed that the two-time Mal Meninga medallist isn’t sidelined long term.
Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors
Canberra Raiders v Warriors at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Melissa Adams
Raiders fans have endured some ordinary showings this year, but they made their frustrations abundantly clear by jeering the players at half-time.
The Raiders are now ahead of last-placed Cronulla with a 37-point superior for-and-against, and are surely unbackable favourites for a first wooden spoon since 1982.
It is the second time the Warriors have belted the Raiders this season after winning 54-12 across the ditch in round nine.
That display forced coach Ricky Stuart to apologise afterwards but, injuries aside, nothing can excuse the bloodbath he couldn’t find the words to explain.
“Hard, very hard. I don't have any words,’’ he said.
“It's very disappointing and there's a lot of people in there hurting.
“I'm very mindful of what we're dealing with here and how it's dealt with, it's a tough job.
“There's a lot of things being exposed with performances like that.
“The players are certainly committing themselves, we’re working hard during the week.
“I'll talk to the players more about today's performance, today isn't the day to talk to them. They're hurting and we have to be mindful of the situation we're at.’’
Stuart implored his side to win back the respect of the crowd when down 28-0 in his half-time address, but the hole was only dug deeper after the break.
Playing in Hulk jerseys for a Marvel Comics promotion, it was the Raiders who were smashed and made to look comical.
The green hero’s powers only come to life when he’s angry, and Stuart would have been close to his own Hulk impression in the coaches box.
Canberra was made to look like second graders in defence and were clueless in attack in arguably its most humiliating defeat in an already dark year.
Unfortunately the Raiders don’t have much to hang their hats on to be optimistic about next year either.
Star fullback Anthony Milford is heading to Brisbane, vice-captain Brett White is retiring and their only signing of note is Melbourne flyer Sisa Waqa.
They need more than a winger to turn this mess around, and Croker described the display as “embarrassing” on ABC Radio.
He added White “doesn’t deserve that garbage’’ in the final games of his career.
Respected commentator and rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton rated it “amateur hour’’ on 2GB.
It was the Warriors first win in Canberra since 2001, its first at Canberra Stadium since Super League and snapped a seven-game losing streak in the capital.
And it was the first win in four matches without star playmaker Shaun Johnson, who missed with a groin injury, since he debuted in 2011.
The win catapulted the Warriors into sixth on the NRL table, and ensured an enjoyable homecoming for coach Andrew McFadden, a former Raiders assistant.
Winger Manu Vatuvei terrorised Canberra again with three tries, and the Warriors are shaping as a dangerous lurker in the bottom half of the eight.
Canberra enjoyed plenty of possession early, but their faltering attack couldn’t find a try.
When it came time to try and stop them, it made every error in the book and was toyed with by the Warriors attack.
A major problem all season, the Raiders edge defence was again embarrassed by the Warriors, who made 12 line breaks to Canberra’s three.
Warriors stars Konrad Hurrell, Sam Tomkins, Jacob Lillyman and Thomas Leuluai didn’t finish the match with niggles, but McFadden said it was only precautionary.
“Konrad tightened up in his hamstring and it wasn’t worth risking him, Sam got a bump on his hip and Jacob twisted an ankle,’’ he said.
“We never planned to play Thomas for 80 minutes coming back from a groin injury, it tightened up so we took him off.
“I think anyone in the finals will give themselves a chance, that’s how close the competition is.’’
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 54 (Manu Vatuvei 3, Sam Rapira 2, Sione Lousi, Sam Tomkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ben Matulino, Ngani Laumape tries; Chad Townsend 7 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 18 (Josh McCrone, Paul Vaughan, Reece Robinson tries; Jarrod Croker 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium on Sunday. Crowd: 7094. Referees: Gavin Morris and Gavin Reynolds.