Raiders remain resolute despite a horror start to season
NRL cellar dwellers the Canberra Raiders remain resolute their season is alive despite slumping to their worst start in six years.
The Raiders yesterday returned to the nation's capital after Saturday night's 26-18 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
Finals football appears a long way off for a last-placed Raiders side after a five-game losing streak.
Even at this early stage of the season, the next two weeks are critical to their top-eight aspirations.
The Raiders host the Newcastle Knights on Sunday, followed by a round-three rematch with the Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium seven days later.
Raiders centre Jarrod Croker believed solidarity would be vital if the under-siege Green Machine is to get its shaky season back on track.
''Dropping your heads and not sticking together is not going to get us anywhere,'' Croker said.
''So we've got stick together, ice up and get ready for a couple of home games and get the ball rolling.''
The record books are being extended every week, but for all the wrong reasons.
Canberra's one-five win/loss record after the opening six rounds matches the 2005 team's effort.
That 2005 side dropped six of its first seven games but snuck into the top eight, albeit in a year when the Canterbury Bulldogs lost 37 premiership points for salary cap breaches.
Melbourne Storm's scratching from last year's competition also had a bearing on the number of points needed to qualify for the post-season. The Raiders finished seventh with 13 wins.
To replicate that this season they need to win 12 of their final 18 games.
Hooker Alan Tongue is an outside chance of facing the Knights providing his injured shoulder survives contact work at training this week.
Veteran halfback Matt Orford will also be monitored to see if he has recovered from the lower back injury which kept him out of the trip to Townsville.
The Raiders will seek an explanation from referee's boss Bill Harrigan after two decisions proved costly in their loss to the Cowboys.
The most contentious was the try to Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston late in the first half which extended the hosts' lead to 24-6.
Raiders co-captain David Shillington was adamant Thurston knocked the ball on when he pounced on a play-the-ball from Blake Ferguson 15m out from his own line.
Ferguson played the ball with no dummy-half, allowing Thurston to grubber the ball into the in-goal.
''I spoke to the refs a couple of weeks ago, there were a couple of decisions there they agreed were wrong, they're hurting us,'' Furner said.
''I talked to them, and I thought [Saturday night] was a little bit like that.
''You can say some [was due] to our discipline, which surprises me from my team, but to have a penalty count 10-3 [against the Raiders] I thought there were a couple that could've gone our way.
''I know this team is trying its guts out. When the luck's not with you and you're trying to get a win, those decisions don't go your way.''
THE RAIDERS' WORST LOSING RUNS
EIGHT: Rounds 21-25, 1985 and R1-3 1986
SEVEN: R1-7 1982; R20-26 2005
SIX: R9-14 1982 and R7-12 1983
FIVE: R2-6 2011*; QF 1996 and R1-4 1997; R10-15 2005
* Still going
FOUR: R20-22 1993 and R1 1994; R4-7 2002; R21-24 2002; R8-11 2004; R14-17 2007; QF 2008 and R1-3 2009; R6-10 2009.Source: The Canberra Times