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Raiders ‘embarrassed’ by Eels in front of big home crowd

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said he was “embarrassed” by his side’s performance in their 35-10 loss to the Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium.

The Raiders let in 23 unanswered points in the second half in front of a bumper crowd of 20,089 to record their third loss in four weeks.

It was the worst possible start for the home side with Jordan Rapana dropping a high kick with his first touch and the Eels made them pay through Isaiah Papali’i.

Rapana hit back with a try of his own just minutes later before Maika Sivo scored the Eels second to give them a 12-4 lead.

After a good run from fullback Caleb Aekins, Josh Hodgson made a break and found George Williams who scored next to the posts to make it 12-10.

The Raiders had several chances late in the first half but couldn’t convert with Stuart lamenting his side’s impatience with the ball.

“It looks like we had a lack of patience in attack, more so with how we shifted the ball, instead of using numbers we cut a player out or two,” Stuart said.

After an even contest in the first half, the Eels lifted in the second and the Raiders couldn’t go with them.

Papali’i scored his second try early in the half before the Raiders were forced to shuffle their backline due to a Bailey Simonnson HIA in the second half. It was the second backline reshuffle in as many weeks for the Raiders and Stuart blamed himself for not having Sebastian Kris on the bench.

“I’m disappointed in myself in not having Seb Kris on the bench tonight, I stuffed up,” Stuart said.

“I should have learned from last week, but I have been carrying Tommy (Starling) because I have been wanting to get Tommy on the field at some stage for different types of reasons.

“But Seb Kris will be in the 17 next week somewhere, whether it’s starting centre or on the bench.”

The Eels ran in another three tries against a lacklustre Raiders side which prompted Stuart to dish out some harsh words post game.

“It was disappointing. We had a massive crowd, every reason to make them proud of us and we embarrassed ourselves in what could have been a night to make them proud of our effort and the team they support,” Stuart said.

Stuart was then highly critical of some individuals in his team when asked if his side was out-enthused by the Eels.

“One hundred per cent we were. Not the team. Individuals. Don’t put everybody in that category,” he said.

“There’s individuals there that are leaning on others. Individuals there waiting for someone else to do it.

“Individuals there that are happy to put on an NRL jumper and thinking they’re an NRL player.”

Ryan Sutton was the pick of the Raiders forwards, running for 153 metres in 74 minutes while Aekins was their best back in his debut for the club.

“I feel sorry for Caleb Aekins. He didn’t deserve that tonight,” said Stuart.

“I thought Caleb was good. He gave us a lot of opportunity in our shapes of attack.”

The Raiders will look to get back on track when they head to Townsville to take on the Cowboys on Saturday 24 April at 7.35pm.

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