Another tough loss for Toyota Cup Raiders
Whilst the Canberra Raiders NYC side went down 34-24 to the fourth placed Cronulla Sharks at Toyota Stadium yesterday evening, it did reveal that the side is still able to compete with the higher ranked sides despite the absence of several quality players.
The young Raiders had every right to win the contest but several lapses of concentration, ill-discipline and a lack of self-belief in some of the inexperienced members of the team were to their detriment.
The players and coaching staff have refused to use the loss of key personnel as an excuse any longer and rightly so given the talent that remains in the team despite their inexperience.
“There’s no doubt we could beat that team but I’ve got to question the belief some players have in themselves,” Coach David Hamilton said.
“I don’t want the player’s to make excuses for losing. They can go home and say ‘ah jeez we had all these players out injured and whoever’s in first grade’ but bad luck. This is about them as individuals who should’ve won this game.”
“We can use the absence of certain player’s as excuses...we had nine run on players not there today but it doesn’t matter, whoever’s there has to do the job. This could be great for us next year but screw next year I want to win this year.”
Jack Wighton was then instrumental in hitting back for the away side after centre Callum Tutauha opened the scoring for the Sharks in the 16th minute. Wighton tore through some flimsy Sharks defence in the 27th minute with a jink and an electric burst of speed on the right edge and then targeted that right edge again in the 34th minute, this time electing to pass and delivering a sublime flat ball for Sami Sauiluma to crash over. Ryan Gowing converted.
Ill-discipline then brought the Raiders undone a minute before half-time when the Sharks again capitalized on a penalty against the Raiders when Cronulla fullback Luke Pickerd crossed for his 12th try of the season.
The Raiders started the second half with some authority as Gowing produced a miraculous no-look pass to allow Paul Vaughan to crash over and score.
Alas, the Raiders were their own worst enemy, giving away another penalty whilst in front to provide the impetus for Dylan Hill to replicate a pin-ball through the Canberra defence. Ali Hijazi converted to give his side the lead.
The first three tries to Cronulla were all on the back of penalties against the Raiders.
“There were good signs though that we can stick it to a top four side but we’ve got to learn to compete more at the back end of the second half...We should’ve beaten them today. Little things like having them score on the back of penalties and giving them an extra forty metres with each penalty killed us,” Wighton lamented.
The Raiders then disappointingly committed the cardinal error of conceding a try in the corresponding set of six, to Hayden Peacock and then when Tutauha broke the line and dashed forty metres to score his second try in the 64th minute.
However the young Raiders regrouped and showed some character as Wighton took the defence on to score his second in the 68th minute. Gowing converted.
A try to winger Daniel Moroko just minutes later from a beautiful Pickerd cut out ball though, put the result beyond doubt though for the home side although Adam Tangata was able to score a consolation try in the 79th minute to put some respectability back into the score line.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Wighton.
“We showed a lot better signs than last week but a couple of little things let us down which we’ll need to work on.
Even though we’re missing a lot of player’s we’ve got to learn to play with what we’ve got. The side’s still got a lot of quality player’s in the line up so that’s no excuse.”
“If we show up with the right attitude each week we can have a big shot on this comp.” Source: raiders.com.au