Record (W-L-D): 8 wins, 16 losses
Top Pointscorer: Jarrod Croker 202
Top Tryscorer: Jarrod Croker 18
The return of club legend Ricky Stuart couldn’t stop the Raiders slide down the competition ladder. After an off-season that saw the departures of Blake Ferguson, Sandor Earl, Joel Thompson, Joe Picker and Sam Williams, this would be a season of rebuild for the club from the Nation’s Capital.
Their round twenty-four clash with a depleted Cronulla confirmed they would avoid the wooden spoon. This started a three game winning streak which saw the Raiders eliminate Parramatta from making the Finals Series with a gutsy 33-20 victory at GIO Stadium. Jarrod Croker was awarded the Meninga Medal for an outstanding season that saw him post 202 of Canberra’s 466 points.
There were glimpses of Canberra realising their full potential even though they were few and far between. They can be proud of their effort against South Sydney in round four where they recorded a 30-18 victory on a Sunday afternoon with Anthony Milford was at his best. In round seven they pulled off a remarkable victory over the Storm where Paul Vaughan crossed in the final minute to secure victory. They took advantage of the Cowboys side missing their Origin players in round eleven by thrashing them 42-12 in what would be their biggest win of the season. Three consecutive wins to end the season will give the Raiders a boost heading into their 2015 campaign, falling two points behind early front runners Gold Coast Titans. Mitchell Cornish’s promotion to the top grade was well deserved as he represents the future of the club.
Canberra yet again struggled in the defensive aspect of their game conceding over six hundred points, six points less than bottom ranked Wests Tigers. They conceded fifty points on three occasions. Back to back defeats by Manly (18-54) and the Warriors (12-54) made fans question whether coach Stuart was the best man to revive the Raiders. Later on in the season the Warriors once again put a score (18-54) at GIO Stadium. During the season Terry Campese was a high profile casualty, demoted to VB NSW Cup Feeder side Mounties. A sign that Stuart is looking for a new leader at the club. Jack Wighton’s experiment at five-eighth was a failure at the start of the season. Off-field the Raiders failed to lure Penrith’s Josh Mansour and Tim Moltzen opted to get out of his contract. The inability to recruit top line players started a debate about concessions to get players to sign with the struggling club.
The Future: 2015
Canberra continue their solid phase of departures with Tom Lehroyd-Lahrs, Anthony Milford and Brett White leaving the club. Recruitment to date has been slow with Sisa Waqa making the move up from Melbourne. Sam Williams will return to the club after an unhappy season at the Dragons. Josh Hodgson arrives from Hull KR and Iosia Soliola will return to the National Rugby League after a stint with St Helens. Again the Raiders will rely on the experience of Shaun Fensom, Jarrod Croker, Joel Edwards and Dane Tilse to lift the team up the competition ladder. Ricky Stuart has a mountain of work to develop at grassroots level for the Raiders to become more competitive. Another tough season looms for the Raiders.