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Raiders' mid-season report card

Date

Jon Tuxworth

League great Terry Lamb has dealt with his fair share of coaching pressure, and says David Furner must stick to his guns at the Raiders.

A 40-0 loss to the Wests Tigers was a low point of the Raiders' season.

A 40-0 loss to the Wests Tigers was a low point of the Raiders' season. Photo: Colleen Petch

Terry Lamb knows first hand how the walls seem to close in on you when at the helm of an under-fire team.

Player ill-discipline, mounting losses and fan frustration – his short tenure as Wests Tigers coach was tumultuous to say the least.

And his advice to Canberra Raiders coach David Furner is to avoid a siege mentality and trust his natural instincts.

The Raiders' defence, in particular that of centre Jarrod Croker, has struggled this season.

The Raiders' defence, in particular that of centre Jarrod Croker, has struggled this season. Photo: Melissa Adams

The Canterbury great endured the drug suspensions of Craig Field and Ken McGuinness and the infamous John Hopoate "finger poking" scandal at Concord.

Wests finished near the bottom of the ladder when he was in charge in 2001 and 2002, and Lamb has some regrets.

He doesn't want Furner to make the same mistakes.

"You start questioning yourself, that's what you do," Lamb said.

"I probably went in and made some rash decisions I shouldn't have, and you can't change them.

"Especially when you've only been there a short time [criticism gets to you], I'm sure Wayne Bennett's used to it and Timmy Sheens and Brian Smith, and don't pay too much attention to it.

"He just has to be true to himself and do the right thing by the club."

The Raiders' frustrating first half of the season has featured five wins from 13 matches, club-imposed player suspensions and rumours the coach is on notice.

"I couldn't get away from the pressure to tell you the truth, it hangs around all the time," Lamb said.

"It's pretty hard – you read papers and listen to the news and people ring you up.

"I was probably too close to some of the players when I was coaching and didn't know the difference between being a coach and being a mate.

"If someone doesn't want to get on your side, you either stand him down or get rid of him.

"He probably needs to ask questions to mates, ring Ricky Stuart and those guys up and ask for advice."

After Canberra's embarrassing 40-0 home loss to Wests Tigers a fortnight ago, Furner took his side on a soul-searching camp at Swansea last week.

It helped unify the club enough to produce a crucial 32-16 win against fellow struggler Newcastle.

"I would never question the players, they were out there trying [against the Tigers], but when you come up with those errors you put pressure on everyone," Furner said.

"We definitely weren't happy with where we were, and rather than beat them down any more it was more about refocusing, because I believe in the talent in the squad.

"It [the camp] was probably about the players and the group in themselves being a bit tighter ... you turn up to headquarters and sometimes don't get to learn about some of the players and vice-versa really.

"That was one of the factors and I looked at a couple of exercise, which instilled the belief in the individual and the belief in the team."

The win over the Knights was a timely boost for a young outfit struggling for confidence.

Furner knows beating a side that hasn't won since round eight doesn't amount to a form reversal.

But it provided a foundation he hopes they can build on to make a charge to the finals similar to the Raiders' fairytale run in 2010.

"I'm happy with the response of the players from last week but I still think we can be stronger, we have to build confidence through our defence," he said.

"If we want to aim for the semi-finals we have to be a better defending side, bottom line.

"The biggest thing for us, regardless of age, is being able to keep the same players on the park week-in, week-out."

Furner insisted the constant speculation over his future wasn't affecting his vision to turn the club's fortunes around.

"Am I worried about it? No, and the other thing is ask the players," Furner said.

"I haven't lost the players. There's still a few things we have to change, but I am that competitive and put pressure on myself.

"The external things I can't control."

Former skipper Simon Woolford, a specialist hooker coach at the Raiders this year, admitted the side's application in defence had been questionable this season.

At times, especially against the Tigers, Canberra has looked disinterested in defence.

The Raiders are currently ranked eighth in attack, but only bottom side Parramatta's defensive record is worse.

But the Swansea camp has helped build the unity and trust in each other the players need to be successful.

"Defensively there are a number of issues there and it's got nothing to do with structures, it's commitment and desire in defence that's been an issue," Woolford said.

"That's been addressed and if they can use the Newcastle game as a platform in setting the bar, I can see significant improvement in their defence.

"They were on our line for quite a period in the second half and we leaked some points, but in weeks gone by we would have leaked a lot more.

"They were a lot more resilient and they have to bottle that and produce it every week."

Woolford said the side had made a pact not to use its mounting injury toll as an excuse over the back half of the year.

"Injuries don't help, but they're not an excuse for not turning up with 17 men and having a dig," Woolford said.

"It's commitment to your teammates and commitment to your own personal pride in the way you play, too.

"That's why the results have been inconsistent in terms of the lopsided results ... that's not a structural or technical thing, that's an intensity and commitment thing from the players.

"We're going to have losses at times, no doubt about it, but it's the way we lost a couple of those games that wasn't really acceptable and there's no one at our club accepting that either."

Woolford said the harrowing month that awaits the Raiders will gauge whether they are prepared as a unit to band together and pull themselves from the mire.

They face North Queensland in Townsville next Saturday before games against St George Illawarra (home) and pacesetter Melbourne (away).

"One week's performance isn't going to cut it, they've got a tough three weeks ahead," Woolford said.

"It's a tough period and it's really going to shape our season.

"We can hang around where we are [on the ladder] and cop that, or we can really make something of it over the next month."

REPORT CARD

ATTACK GRADE: B-

The Raiders have shown that when their completion rate is up to scratch, they have no problem scoring points. Much depends on how Josh Dugan continues to adapt to five-eighth. There was some promising signs against Newcastle, but the Raiders know there are far stiffer tests ahead, starting in Townsville next week. Reece Robinson has been solid at fullback, while the forward pack continues to punch down the field, but needs more second-phase play. Some costly 'brain explosions' have crept into the Raiders' game. They have lacked direction since Terry Campese's season-ending injury, and Josh McCrone, pictured, needs to step up.

KICKING GRADE: C-

The Raiders' inability to control a game with their kicking has been an area of concern. Sam Williams, pictured, has the best short kicking game in the club, but his defensive flaws have seen him demoted to NSW Cup. Dugan has one of the biggest boots in the NRL and can fill the void left by Campese. The short kicking game, in particular the ability to mount pressure through repeat sets, needs significant improvement.

DEFENCE GRADE: D-

Coach David Furner summed it up best: "If we want to be a finals team we need to be a better defending side, that's the bottom line." Only Parramatta has a worse defensive record than the Raiders so far this season. The Raiders have conceded nearly 25 points per game. The left side has been particularly woeful with opponents regularly sending their mobile back-rowers in that direction. Dugan's elevation to the front line in place of Williams was mainly designed to help fix that weakness. Teams have hurt them with second-phase play at times, and reducing opponents' offloads will be a focus.

COACH GRADE: C-

Furner, pictured, remains under constant fire from fans, but continues to receive full backing from the club's board and management. Canberra has only beaten one top eight side this year – the Wests Tigers when they were in an early-season slump. However, Furner should be commended for trying different options to revive the Raiders' season, notably Josh Dugan's switch from fullback to five-eighth. His decision to stand down Dugan and Blake Ferguson from the round 12 loss to South Sydney was a gutsy statement that proved he is prepared to put team culture ahead of pleasing his players.

ROOKIES GRADE: B+

One of the big highlights of Canberra's season has been the continued emergence of promising rookies from its vibrant junior nursery. Before his untimely injury, Jack Wighton justified the massive raps he's commanded for some time with strong performances out wide. Impressive 19-year-old winger Edrick Lee, pictured, scored two tries against Newcastle in just his third NRL game and appears a long-term prospect. Second-rower Jarrad Kennedy was solid in his NRL debut in round eight against Cronulla.

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NRL Season 2015

Round 1
Thu, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs SOU 36 Report Stats
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 42 vs MAN 12 Report Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 24 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs WST 19 Report Stats
NQL 4 vs SYD 28 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 24 vs CBY 18 Report Stats
CRO 20 vs CBR 24 Report Stats
Mon, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG 4 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
CBY 32 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
CRO 2 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 40 vs GCT Report Stats
MAN 24 vs MEL 22 Stats
NQL 14 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 34 vs SYD 26 Stats
CBR 6 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
Mon, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
WST 22 vs STG 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 12 vs CBY 16 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 29 vs PAR 16 Report Stats
CBR 20 vs STG 22 Report Stats
MEL 36 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 20 vs WST 6 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
Mon, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 20 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
PAR 29 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
WST 24 vs CBY 25 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 26 vs PEN 14 Report Stats
CRO 22 vs GCT 24 Report Stats
STG 12 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 16 vs BRI 24 Report Stats
SYD 34 vs CBR 6 Report Stats
Mon, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
NQL 18 vs MEL 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
CBY 17 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 16 vs BRI 26 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MAN 16 vs CBR 29 Report Stats
NEW vs STG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 12 vs CRO 20 Report Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 6 vs WST 22 Report Stats
MEL 30 vs NZW 14 Report Stats
PEN 10 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 22 vs SYD 18 Report Stats
CRO 22 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 16 vs GCT 38 Report Stats
NZW 32 vs WST 22 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CBR 10 vs MEL 14 Report Stats
STG 31 vs CBY 6 Report Stats
Mon, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 12 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 28 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
STG 12 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
GCT 32 vs PEN 6 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
MEL 17 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
WST 22 vs CBR 30 Report Stats
NEW 22 vs PAR 28 Report Stats
Mon, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs SOU 10 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CBY 14 vs WST 38 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
NZW 28 vs GCT 32 Report Stats
NEW 24 vs NQL 26 Report Stats
SYD 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs MAN 12 Stats
BRI 28 vs PAR 16 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 26 vs CRO 18 Stats
SOU 22 vs CBR 30 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 8 vs PEN 5 Report Stats
SYD 36 vs WST 4 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR 56 vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16 vs NZW 20 Stats
NQL 23 vs CBY 16 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 30 vs NEW 10 Stats
PAR 10 vs MEL 28 Stats
Mon, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 16 vs STG 10 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CBY 10 vs SYD 24 Stats
NQL 31 vs BRI 20 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 13 vs NZW 17 Report Stats
GCT 22 vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16 vs SOU 12 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
STG 32 vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22 vs WST 12 Stats
Mon, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 10 vs PEN 11 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NQL 8 Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR 34 vs CBY 41 Stats
Mon, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 18 vs BRI 31 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs PAR 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT vs SOU 15:00Cbus Super Stadium
CBR vs BRI 17:30GIO Stadium
NQL vs MAN 19:301300 Smiles Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW vs NEW 14:00MSS
STG vs CRO 16:00Jubilee Oval
Mon, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 19:00AS
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Round 13
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MAN 19:35SUN
WST vs GCT 19:35VAS
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CBR 15:00HS
SOU vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
PEN vs MEL 19:30Pepper Stadium
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SYD 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs STG 16:00ANZ
PAR vs NQL 19:00Pirtek Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:45ANZ
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SYD 18:00MSS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs CBY 16:00Cbus Super Stadium
Mon, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs PAR 19:00AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs WST 19:45BO
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 15:00GIO Stadium
GCT vs NZW 17:30Cbus Super Stadium
CBY vs PEN 19:30ANZ
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
MEL vs BRI 16:00AAMI
Mon, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs SYD 19:00AS
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:35SUN
SOU vs MAN 19:35ANZ
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs CBR 15:00MSS
NQL vs CRO 17:301300 Smiles Stadium
PAR vs STG 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs GCT 14:00AS
WST vs PEN 16:00VAS
Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MEL 19:00Belmore Sports Ground
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:45Pepper Stadium
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs CRO 16:00BO
Mon, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WST vs PAR 19:00ANZ
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NEW 19:45GIO Stadium
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SYD 17:30Pepper Stadium
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs MEL 14:00MSS
CRO vs STG 16:00Remondis Stadium
Mon, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CBY 19:35ANZ
MEL vs PEN 19:35AAMI
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CRO 15:00GIO Stadium
NEW vs GCT 17:30HS
STG vs SOU 19:30SCG
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NZW 14:00AS
BRI vs WST 16:00SUN
Mon, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NQL 19:00BO
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Round 20
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs GCT 19:35SUN
WST vs SYD 19:35ANZ
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs MAN 15:00MSS
SOU vs NEW 17:30ANZ
MEL vs STG 19:30AAMI
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CBR 14:00Pepper Stadium
CBY vs CRO 16:00Belmore Sports Ground
Mon, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs PAR 19:001300 Smiles Stadium
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Round 21
Thu, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs CRO 22:00MSS
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
MAN vs BRI 00:00TBA
WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs STG 22:00MSS
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
CRO vs NQL 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
CBY vs GCT 00:00TBA
NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
PEN vs NZW 00:00Pepper Stadium
CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
WST vs NEW 00:00CSS
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Wed, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs NQL 22:00MSS
Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs PEN 00:00WIN
SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR vs CRO 00:00Pirtek Stadium
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
SOU vs BRI 00:00AS
CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
MEL vs NQL 00:00AAMI
WST vs NZW 00:00CSS
GCT vs STG 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs MEL 00:00SUN
CBY vs NZW 00:00ANZ
NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
PAR vs CBR 00:00Pirtek Stadium
PEN vs NEW 00:00Pepper Stadium
SYD vs SOU 00:00AS
CRO vs MAN 00:00Remondis Stadium
View All Fixtures
NRL Ladder 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D Pts
Melbourne Storm 10 7 3 0 16
Brisbane Broncos 11 8 3 0 16
St George-Illawarra Dragons 10 7 3 0 16
North Queensland Cowboys 11 8 3 0 16
Sydney Roosters 10 5 5 0 12
South Sydney Rabbitohs 11 6 5 0 12
Warriors 10 5 5 0 12
Penrith Panthers 10 5 5 0 12
View all
 
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