NRL talking points: Canberra Raiders set for another roller coaster season

NRL talking points: Canberra Raiders set for another roller coaster season

The Canberra Raiders have slid straight in and out of finals contention for the best part of 20 years.

Everyone best be ready for the roller coaster to continue following an opening round catastrophe against the Gold Coast Titans at Robina Stadium on Sunday night.

The Raiders lost after holding a big lead.

The Raiders lost after holding a big lead.

Canberra led 24-6 after 27 minutes. Before long it was 24-all and the Titans and looked like they would knock down the green wall that stood in their way.

Knock it down they did as barnstorming centre Konrad Hurrell crossed under the posts and Michael Gordon nailed a conversion from in front with less than 30 seconds remaining to steal a 30-28 win.

Woes in close games continue


Winning close games can turn into a habit - but as we saw last year, so can losing them.

The Raiders lost eight games by six points or less last season and their start to 2018 was certainly one to forget.

Surrendering a huge first-half lead could be a major dent in Canberra's confidence as they grapple with a horror run in close games.

The Titans had 80 per cent of the ball in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and the mountain of possession eventually broke Canberra's backs.

"You can look at a thousand things but at the start of that second half there we didn't hold onto the ball when we had it and we didn't have it for the rest of it," Raiders captain Jarrod Croker said.

"You're not going to win games against anyone with that sort of possession."

Filling Josh Hodgson's shoes

How the Canberra Raiders were going to plug a hole left by one of the world's best hookers has dominated headlines for five months. Siliva Havili found an answer in less than four minutes.

Havili opened his try-scoring account as a Raider inside four minutes but even so, it wasn't enough to inspire a victory as the Raiders let an opening round victory slip from their grasp.

​The Tongan hooker has struggled to lock down a consistent starting spot at both St George Illawarra and the New Zealand Warriors since making his NRL debut in 2015.

He has just 25 NRL games to his name but he has still played eight Tests in that time and wasted no time in showing everyone else what the Tongan selectors see in him.

Sam Williams impresses

Raiders halfback Sam Williams was steadfast amongst a pre-match reshuffle with Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer switching positions, and wasted no time in proving why he is the man Stuart sees as the club's leading halfback.

Williams is adamant he is a far better player than the one Raiders fans have seen in his previous two stints with the club and he showed promising signs against the Titans.

The 26-year-old took on the line at will and put lock Elliott Whitehead through a gaping hole in the defence to strike a massive blow to a dazed Gold Coast outfit in the first half.

Ricky Stuart's 100th game at the helm

Canberra mentor Stuart may have only been bringing up his 100th game as Raiders coach, but it probably feels closer to 300 with all the close games they've played in.

Stuart's record is now 47 wins and 52 losses as Canberra coach, with one draw coming against the Newcastle Knights - a vastly improved club that will visit the capital on Sunday.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in Sport


Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use