Raiders must learn from Warriors heartbreak: Cotric
They are winless after three rounds but winger Nick Cotric believes the Canberra Raiders can recover from their worst start to a season since 2009.
Their season went from bad to worse in the space of 90 seconds, when New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson slotted two field goals at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
It capped a sensational comeback from the Warriors and added another sorry chapter to Canberra's trifecta of narrow losses after leading in all three.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said how the team reacted to the heartbreaking loss to the Warriors would define their season.
Cotric said the players knew they were the only one who could turn around the mental lapses and defensive mistakes which have haunted them.
"We've just got to work on the little things at training and just keep working hard, we'll get over this, we'll be sweet," Cotric said.
"It's still early in the season, but everybody's got to keep their heads up and stay positive.
"It's not a good feeling to lose three and it's pretty bad, but you we've got to move forward to the next game."
Despite the gut-wrenching loss, there were signs the defensive issues were starting to be rectified.
Desperate attempts to stop the potent Warriors out wide were seen throughout the game, only for all of the work to be overshadowed by Johnson's accurate right boot in the dying moments.
A microcosm of that improved defensive effort could be seen when prop Sia Soliola managed to run down one of the fastest men in the game, Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, in what was an overall excellent game for the veteran forward.
"The effort is there, and the boys are pushing hard to do the little things right, but the last couple of minutes, what can we do, we just got a bit unlucky too," Cotric said.
The Raiders winger had his most impressive game of the season, showing tremendous strength to ground the ball in the 44th minute despite the attention of three defenders.
The try was complemented by 13 tackles breaks and two line breaks as he racked up 132 running metres.
"I've got a lot of improvement to do," he said.
"But the main thing is we've got to get that win, everybody's being putting in the hard yards, but we have got to get it together."
On a positive note for the Green Machine, centre Joey Leilua showed little signs of discomfort from his ankle injury which threatened to keep him out of the clash - he made 16 runs for 154 metres and the 26-year-old pulled up fine after the game.