'Look themselves in the mirror': Warriors' captain's message after giving up 14-0 lead in latest loss
A composed second-half rally has saved Canberra’s NRL season as the Raiders rattled off four unanswered tries to beat the Warriors 26-14 at GIO Stadium.
Canberra trailed 12-0 before they’d even touched the ball and looked a shell of the team that rolled Melbourne last round.
But they snapped out of their slumber and avoided a hammer-blow in the race for finals.
They’re now level on wins with eight-ranked Sydney Roosters, only sitting outside the finals positions via a points differential with six games left in the home-and-way season.
Defying a dubious record of having won only two of their past 10 games when coming off a win, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said composure and a lack of complacency had allowed them to flip the script.
“They were a good footy team there for 40 minutes and then we had to handle a lot of pressure,” Stuart said.
“At halftime we’d been challenged … I said we just turn this into a long game and if you’re patient and you don’t get frustrated and we can still win this game.”
A double for bench forward Corey Harawira-Naera sealed Canberra the points after early second-half tries for Albert Hopoate and Seb Kris.
But Stuart pointed out his side scored off the back of two 40-20 kicks from half Jack Wighton.
“They’re game-changers and that’s what you want your big players doing,” he said.
“Just what it does to the whole team, you’ve only got to talk to the people in the crowd about what it does for them.
“It just turns momentum and that’s what you want your big players to do.”
It was just the third occasion this season they’ve won consecutive games and it couldn’t have come at a better time as they try to break into the top-eight with a favourable draw to close the regular season.
Five of their remaining six games are against bottom-eight teams and they are likely to start favourites in all outings except for a round 21 clash with Penrith.
Remarkably, the Raiders completed all 22 of their second-half sets after going at 63 per cent in the first stanza.
The Raiders can once again thank star prop Joe Tapine for taking control in the middle after he crunched out 191m, 80m post-contact, five tackle busts and three offloads.
The Warriors looked sharp early but were smashed in the second half with a mere 25 per cent of territory.
Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak did what he could with a big 159m while captain Tohu Harris punched out 120m and made 42 tackles.
Sitting at 5-13 and staring down the barrel of their season completely sliding away, Harris called on his teammates to lift in the six remaining weeks.
“We’ve just got to keep our standards high and not accept defeat,” he told reporters.
‘We can’t just be a team that will turn up and just roll over for other teams.
“Everyone’s just got to look themselves in the mirror and ask if this is what they really want … and what they want to do for this club.”
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