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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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Round 1
Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
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PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
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STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
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NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
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GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
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BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
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MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
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MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
Mon, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
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CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
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NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
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CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
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PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
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Round 19
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
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PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
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NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
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CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
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Round 23
Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
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Round 24
Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
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BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
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Round 26
Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
WES 26 vs CRO 10 Report Stats
CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
NEW 40 vs STG 10 Report Stats
GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
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Finals Week 1
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
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Finals Week 2
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Preliminary Finals
Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
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PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Grand Final
Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
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NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
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