Canberra Raiders player Jarrod Croker in action during the Captains Run at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jay Cronan
Canberra assistant coach Justin Morgan has demanded his side lift its defensive pressure after holding brutal 'honesty sessions' with some Raiders players this week.
Statistics compiled by The Canberra Times show the Raiders' defensive record since round seven is the worst in the NRL.
They have conceded 32.4 points per game after their round six win over the Warriors, a startling decline after leaking an average of just 16.67 points over the first six rounds.
Canberra Raiders player Jarrod Croker in action during the Captain's Run at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jay Cronan
But Morgan, the main defensive coach at the Raiders, is confident the side can rediscover its defensive 'mojo'.
''The way I look at those statistics is we've shown we're capable of doing it, and that it's certainly within the grasp of the team,'' he said.
''It's not like we haven't achieved good things defensively this year, we just have to find out what makes us tick in that area, and make sure we get it back.
''We have to learn to put some [defensive] pressure on opposing teams, I don't think we're putting on enough pressure with our defence.''
Raiders skipper David Shillington admitted he was taken aback when the coaching staff highlighted how poor their defensive statistics have been in recent weeks.
''We've had a look at a few figures at how bad the team has been, and personally as well for different people,'' Shillington said.
''Some of the stats were quite shocking, and sometimes you don't realise it when you're out on the field to be honest.
''Morgs [Morgan] has highlighted to a lot of players this week their poor tackle efficiencies, and hopefully that's a trigger for people to lift their game in that respect.''
Morgan said controlling the ruck had been a particular concern and a major focus this week. He added their own errors were having a snowball effect on their defensive workload.
''I think it [defensive fadeouts] is partly down to concentration, but the fact is in those periods we're not holding the ball,'' he said.
''There's periods in the game last week [against South Sydney] where we didn't touch the ball for minutes because some fundamental errors we need to eradicate have crept into our game.''
The Raiders have been without their chief on-field talker Terry Campese since round seven and Brett White, their best communicator in the forwards, since round five. Canberra's struggles to field a consistent side each week have contributed to its defensive woes.
But Morgan said it's not an excuse and it needs to adapt.
The Raiders are preparing for the Wests Tigers to launch another assault on their leaky left-side defence today, particularly given Josh Dugan's move to five-eighth.
Their potent right-side attack, led by Benji Marshall, Chris Lawrence and Adam Blair, had a field day against the Cowboys last week.
''The Tigers generally just bog their right edge and they did a really good job on the Cowboys,'' Shillington said.
''With our left edge [worries] and Duges there, there's no doubt they'll send traffic that way and try and wear him down a bit.
''It's not a secret how many points we've leaked down there and obviously teams will continue to target that, they'd be silly not to.''
Raiders drop away:
Sharks 77 (12.83)
Storm 79 (13.17)
Broncos 90 (15)
Knights 91 (15.17)
Bulldogs 96 (16)
RAIDERS 100 (16.67)
Sea Eagles 101 (16.83)
Dragons 102 (17)
Roosters 110 (18.33)
Panthers 113 (18.83)
Cowboys 118 (19.67)
Rabbitohs 118 (19.67)
Titans 128 (21.33)
Tigers 139 (23.17)
Warriors 142 (23.67)
Eels 169 (28.17)
Storm 52 (10.4)
Bulldogs 79 (13.17)
Titans 83 (16.6)
Sea Eagles 102 (17)
Dragons 102 (17)
Cowboys 104 (17.33)
Broncos 100 (20)
Tigers 102 (20.4)
Knights 106 (21.2)
Sharks 110 (22)
Rabbitohs 124 (24.8)
Warriors 124 (24.8)
Panthers 154 (25.67)
Roosters 162 (27)
Eels 155 (31)
RAIDERS 162 (32.4)