Warriors v Raiders: Five key points
The Canberra Raiders maintained momentum in their late surge towards the NRL Telstra Premiership top eight with a commanding 36-16 victory over the Warriors on Sunday afternoon. Here are the five major talking points from the Round 23 match at Mt Smart Stadium.
Confidence peaking in the capital
Four wins from their last five, with 130 points scored and only 80 conceded it that period.
Recent history makes for pleasant viewing for the Green Machine, and captain Jarrod Croker said belief was high within his squad as they push for a finals berth.
"Obviously winning three in a row certainly builds your confidence," Croker said.
"We can only worry about next week now and go from there."
Adding to the list of things Canberra have to be happy about right now is the fact that two of their final three games will be played at home at GIO Stadium, with a trip to Melbourne in Round 26 their only remaining away fixture.
Untimely errors burn Warriors
On the whole the number of errors on Sunday afternoon wasn't a serious issue for the Warriors, and their 84 per cent completion rate reflects that.
But the timing of them and inability to respond with resilience in defence saw the Kiwi side capitulate.
Five of the six tries the Warriors conceded on Sunday afternoon came on a set following one of their own handling errors.
It started in the seventh minute when Solomone Kata fumbled a would-be try over the line, allowing Canberra to score on the ensuing use of the ball, and it just didn't stop.
Digging that defence
For the fifth game in a row the Raiders restricted a team to 20 points or less, continuing their strong defensive trend over the last month.
Against the Warriors Canberra missed only 21 tackles, with coach Ricky Stuart putting it down to improved ball handling which meant his side were spending less time tackling.
"What's been our biggest issue is errors and putting too much pressure on our defence," Stuart said.
Halves provide some hope
If there is to be a silver lining from the Warriors' sixth-straight defeat, it probably sits within the performance of their young halves pairing.
Already without halfback Shaun Johnson, the Warriors lost Kieran Foran prior to the match due to a shoulder complaint, leaving Mason Lino and Ata Hingano to run the show.
Between them the pair made a combined three line breaks, while Lino laid on a try and forced multiple repeat sets with his accurate short kicking game.
With Johnson not expected to be available until Round 26 at the earliest, and with Foran's immediate availability questionable, the Warriors can at least take some comfort in the way their stand-in playmakers managed periods of the game.
Croker ticks off latest milestone
Captain Jarrod Croker's try 17 minutes into the match at Mt Smart Stadium saw him become Canberra's second-most prolific try-scorer in history, going past Brett Mullins with his 106th four-pointer.
Already the Raiders' outright leading man in terms of points, the latest achievement leaves him just 14 tries off his namesake, Jason Croker, for the all-time record.
"It's a wonderful milestone where Jason Croker is and one day Jarrod might get there," Stuart said.
"I am sure 'Mullo' will be back home in his garage having a beer, watching this and bagging Jarrod."
This article first appeared on nrl.com