Rugby League


Performance hitting home with the fans

THE CANBERRA Raiders are staring down the barrel of their worst home crowds in more than a decade and after embarrassing performances like last night's they can no longer blame it on the rain.

There was courage on show at Canberra Stadium last night, but most of it was being demonstrated by the 9210 people in the stands, the majority wearing lime green jumpers and plastic ponchos.

Braving such miserable conditions, fans didn't deserve such a miserable performance.

The 40-0 thumping by the Wests Tigers was the biggest defeat ever inflicted on the Raiders at Canberra Stadium.

It was Canberra's worst loss at home in 27 years, since they were trampled 50-6 by 1985 minor premiers the St George Dragons at Queanbeyan's Seiffert Oval.

Before last night the Raiders already had the smallest home crowds in the NRL this season, a figure which has now slumped to an average 10,241 from six games.


But it could have been argued, until last night night, that things had conspired against the Raiders.

The Raiders could count themselves lucky that 7862 turned up for their season opener against the Melbourne Storm, such was the force of the torrential rain.

The NRL schedule did them no favours either, when Canberra's round six victory over the New Zealand Warriors fell on Easter Sunday and their round eight match against Cronulla clashed with Mother's Day.

In round 10 the Raiders hosted last-placed Parramatta on a cold Sunday afternoon, while the North Queensland Cowboys came to town for a Monday night match that was never expected to draw a huge crowd.

But there were no excuses for that showing against the Tigers.

The Raiders made 13 handling errors. The most basic of errors.

Blake Ferguson dropped the ball first pass from the scrum, on his own line. Dane Tilse dropped it first tackle after a penalty.

Canberra Stadium has long been considered a fortress. The Raiders boast a 68 per cent winning record at the ground.

But in the past two years the Raiders have won only six of 18 games at home - 33 per cent.

Real fans don't demand victories every game. But if the Raiders keep playing like they did last night, fans will turn away.