Raiders in do or die clash with Tigers
Joe Barton and Matt Sadler
April 30, 2011 - 4:59PM
After just eight rounds, Canberra’s NRL season is on life support, with skipper Alan Tongue admitting Sunday’s fixture against Wests Tigers is a must-win to keep their finals hopes afloat.
Installed as serious premiership contenders in the pre-season due to a strong 2010, a dominant forward pack and some of the competition’s most exciting talents in their backline, Canberra have fallen well below expectations to date.
They are approaching their worst ever losing streak, when they lost eight consecutive matches across the 1985 and 1986 seasons, while they are also in a position to claim their first wooden spoon since their debut season in 1982.
Things have gone worse than coach David Furner could have conjured up in his worst nightmare - and there doesn’t appear to be a magic fix on the horizon.
Talismanic five-eighth Terry Campese is targeting the club’s round 13 clash with North Queensland as his earliest return date - but coming off a knee reconstruction, he will be below his best initially.
Tongue is under no illusions about just how crucial the Tigers fixture could be to getting their season back on track.
“Everybody knows the position that we’re in,” he said on Saturday.
"We probably don’t have to speak about it too much because everybody understands the losses that we’ve had.
“And everybody knows the importance of the game.”
And it does not get any easier this week.
The Tigers have dominated recent fixtures against the Raiders, winning seven of their past eight, including a 26-24 win which knocked Canberra out of the finals last year and a 34-24 victory in round three this season.
Furner pointed to the strike power of the Tigers’ attacking trident Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah and Robert Lui as the biggest danger.
But Farah believed it was the Tigers, who have won just one of their last four, who would need to fix up their sloppy kicking game or be prepared to feel the wrath of dynamic Raiders fullback Josh Dugan.
“Our kicking has probably lost us the last two games we’ve played so if we kick like we have in the last two weeks, Dugan will tear us apart,” he said.
Once again Tongue, with just one match under his belt since returning from a shoulder injury, will start the match from the bench.
He said some honest sessions during the week will be the key to arresting the alarming form slump.
“We haven’t sugar-coated anything, but we’ve just had an honest look and we’ve tried to narrow our focus,” he said.
“We’ve tried to … understand some of the errors and the discipline and penalties that we’ve given away over the last couple of weeks that have let the game slip away from us.”
just heard that one of my cousins is hooked up with the assistant coach of the Raiders, think his name is McFadden or something like that….anyways…from what i’ve heard Furner is on the chopping block…and at social gatherings, little jokes about their form are met with eerie silence (angst) from the younger players.
So the difference in terms of perceived coaching performance between us and them at the moment is at the least we have the confidence in Sheens to get the job done as evidenced by our signing Sheens for a few more years…whereas in Canberra they are feeling nervous about their future…
be wary of the raiders for this game.
they will start off very fast and aggro.
gonna have to just belt their forwards from first whisltle to end of game.
do not under estimate them. otherwise wests-tigers will leave the ground feeling embarrassed at the result.
if wests-tigers can get the simple things correct in their performance, a win will come way of wests-tigers.