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'They've felt they let the town down': Knights and Raiders desperate for victory

(Photos / Getty Images)

If Canberra are serious about their NRL top-eight push, fixing their second-half woes remains the clear priority as they head into Sunday’s must-win clash against Newcastle.


They’re numbers Raiders fans would find tough to swallow – their side have won just one of 14 second halves this season, outscored by 91 points across those games.

On eight of those 14 occasions, they haven’t even mustered a single try.


It’s meant instead of comfortably sitting inside the top eight as the race for finals heats up, they’re still 11th and a win back from eight-ranked St George Illawarra.

But the Knights, who are 12th and have struggled to match it with the league’s top sides in recent times, present a strong opportunity for the Raiders to produce an eighty-minute display.

“They’re a bit of a bogey side for us over the last three games … we’ve got a job at hand,” Raiders coach Ricky Stuart told reporters.


“We made 13 errors to the Broncos’ four last week … controlling the football better than us and not making those errors where we forced a few, and it just doesn’t help you.”

They do, however, seem to have turned the corner after a disastrous 2-6 start to the year, having won four of their last six with their only losses to Brisbane and Parramatta.

Canberra could even find another gear once their halves pairing of Jack Wighton and Jamal Fogarty truly clicks, the latter looking flashy against the Broncos with eight runs and a try assist.

“We’ve had so much change there and now with Jamal back, all he needs to do is get consistency,” Stuart said.


“For a guy like Jamal who’s two games back, (he needs) to try and string four, five or six games together and then naturally his game will just progress.”

Meanwhile in Newcastle, coach Adam O’Brien has admitted player self-belief is down after some patchy form, particularly in an uncompetitive 42-6 loss to Penrith last time out.


“I know for a fact (the players) don’t want to go grocery shopping, they don’t want to go and get coffees after they’ve felt they let the town down, and that can carry a heavy load and can erode your confidence,” he said.

“But it starts with us, we control so much of that … a lack of perceived trying, let’s control a bit more of that and hopefully some people on the street will talk to us.”

Under-fire O’Brien said his team had to accept criticism from fans and use it as fuel for stronger performances going forward.

“When people are invested there is disappointment,” he added.

“You don’t get it both ways, if you’re going to receive the pats on the back when you do a good job, you have to accept the kicks in the bum when you don’t.

“It’s hard to argue, there have been a couple of – for lack of a better term – soft moments … unfortunately it’s hard to disguise those moments when we’ve really let ourselves down.”


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