Raiders Blake Ferguson, Josh McCrone and Josh Dugan celebrate after Jack Wighton scored a try. Photo: Melissa Adams
Two vital points were tucked away in his pocket, but Raiders coach David Furner wasn't about to do cartwheels after Canberra nearly blew a massive lead against Parramatta at Canberra Stadium yesterday.
The Raiders led 36-18 with 14 minutes left, but were given a serious fright when the struggling Eels unleashed the shackles to get within two points late in the game.
It took a try in the dying seconds from boom rookie Jack Wighton, who busted through some poor defence to run 50 metres to score, before the match was put to bed at 40-34.
Raiders vs Eels
Raiders players Dane Tilse , Joel Thompson and Jarrod Croker celebrates after Joel Thompson scores a try. Photo: Melissa Adams
The future of Furner and Eels coach Steve Kearney has been the subject of intense scrutiny after their teams' slow starts to the season.
Although it was far from convincing, a fourth win in 10 games will ease the pressure on the Raiders, who have the bye this week before a tough away game against Souths.
''Just getting the two points I'm happy with that, and certainly happy for about 60 minutes,'' Furner said.
Raiders' Josh McCrone celebrates after teammate Jack Wighton scored a try. Photo: Melissa Adams
''It [the late fadeout] was about concentration and sticking to our principles in defence, meaning decisions. The two points we'll take, but certainly there's some areas there [to fix] and I'm not happy with the last 20 [minutes].
''I've pretty much got a mental picture of why [it happened], so we need to work on that.''
Canberra's win was soured by another serious injury to second-rower Josh Papalii, who fractured his right forearm early in the second half.
He will undergo scans today to determine whether he will require surgery, with early prognosis suggesting he will be sidelined for four to six weeks.
''I attempted to tackle one of their props, swung my arm and just copped his knee,'' Papalii said.
''It's probably just a slight fracture, and hopefully [I'm out for only] four to six weeks.
''It felt like someone chopped my arm off, I was in pain and it was pretty sore.''
It was a case of deja vu for the Eels, who two weeks ago trailed Wests Tigers 31-0, before scoring five tries in the last 15 minutes to lose 31-30.
Parramatta yesterday paid dearly for a 15-minute lapse midway through the first half, when it conceded four tries and watched a 6-0 lead transform into a 24-6 deficit.
The Eels now have just one win from 10 matches, the club's worst start to a season since 1960.
''It seems very familiar,'' Kearney said. ''I'm disappointed and frustrated, what I asked the lads for at half-time was some fight and pride in the jumper, and for the most part they showed that.
''Unless we take ownership of our actions and our jobs out there, and that's everyone for 80 minutes, we're going to find ourselves in those positions.''
Kearney was at a loss to explain why his side only decides to back itself when down by big margins.
''There's probably some link there, which is a worry, because when you're giving up 46 points last week [against Canterbury] and 40 points today, you can't win footy games.''
While Raiders fullback Josh Dugan was best afield, winger Blake Ferguson continued his strong form highlighted by a length-of-the-field first-half try.
Second-rower Joel Thompson complemented his two tries with 34 tackles and 107 metres.
AT A GLANCE
NRL round 10: CANBERRA RAIDERS 40 (R Robinson 2, J Thompson 2, B Ferguson, J Papalii, J Wighton tries; J Croker 6 goals) bt PARRAMATTA EELS 34 (R Morgan 2, K Sio 2, C Blair, C Sandow tries; L Burt 5 goals) at Canberra Stadium yesterday. Referees: Gavin Badger, Adam Devcich. Crowd: 9210.