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Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has stated that his side has “turned a corner” after holding on for one last breath on the Parramatta Eels in a thrilling finish.
After scoring the first two tries of the game early in the second half, Stuart’s men were forced to defend for their lives in the final game, with a stunning save attempt by Jordan Rapana that left Eels aviator Maika Sivo the game winner in the match was denied. 80th minute.
The win lifted the Raiders, who were 3-0 in the last three weeks, to the top eight, keeping their hopes of reaching the final alive.
After his match’s thrilling win, Stuart paid tribute to his players for the “grit and want” they showed during the match against a more imagined opponent.
“If a young kid wants to be a Raider, as I’ve always known by supporting the Canberra Raiders as a young boy, that’s always been in the jersey, that type of grit, that kind of wanting to win,” he said.
“Some games are missing and you have to work hard as a coach to get it, that’s why I get angry when we lose because I know what these guys have under the jersey.
“That’s why I love coaching them. You see such victories tonight, it’s just sheer willpower.
“They keep on surprising me or surprising these guys. For the past two years we’ve just been hit with injuries and a bit of luck that we just can’t control and we just keep getting back up and we just keep hitting.
“There were some excellent examples on the other side of the park tonight on individual effort.”
Despite suggestions that Rapana Sivo may have made a mistake during the final game, Stuart backed the call from the NRL Bunker, stating that there was “no mistake, [Rapana] touch [Sivo] with his hip”.
Stuart admitted he told his charges to ramp up their intensity in the run-up to the clash against Parramatta, stating that he and his players “want to be the team that [in the NRL hub] for the longest”.
The 54-year-old lamented his side’s lack of luck this season, but was optimistic about what the Raiders could produce in the postseason.
“Yes, if we don’t get unlucky anymore [we can finish the season well],” he said.
“Happiness in life is everything, business, sports, you need some luck and we haven’t had much this year.
“Then all of a sudden we get frustrated with losing, because we know we have that.” [performance] with us it’s easy to get frustrated when you know you have.
“I’ve coached football teams before where you’re not good enough and I’m never angry or disappointed with the guys if I think we’re not good enough to beat the opponent.
“That’s why you get frustrated and frustrated if you lose football games if you don’t play to your potential or if you don’t coach to your potential. You get mad at yourself, you get mad at the boys, the boys get mad at themselves.
“We’ve turned a corner and it’s not by chance, it’s through hard work and they are a very tenacious couple.”
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