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Canberra to make NRL stand against Knights

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/05/2017 Matt Coughlan

Ricky Stuart has described Canberra's last NRL performance as embarrassing, but he is confident his players' resilience will turn that around against lowly Newcastle.

The Raiders face the Knights on Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium, desperate for a win to get their season back into gear.

Canberra lost to Canterbury by six points in their last outing, but it was the way they played rather than the result which troubled their coach.

"We were uncharacteristically off our game, we were very poor and it was embarrassing in regards to how we performed - not the result - how we performed," Stuart said.

"We will fix that very quickly."

Shannon Boyd has recovered from a leg injury which had kept him out of the Anzac Test, while skipper Jarrod Croker (shoulder) and Jack Wighton (foot) have also benefited from a week off for the representative round and will play.

While Boyd's inclusion boosts the Raiders' massive pack, Stuart believes the completion rate and minimising missed tackles will be more decisive than brute strength.

"It's not a matter of wearing them down just through purely physical force. It's a matter of being able to stay in the game mentally through resilience and through being good at all the little areas of the game," Stuart said.

The Raiders had been considered a major title threat in the pre-season. While 4-5 is far from irreparable damage, beating a side who have won just two of their past 35 is a non-negotiable if the Green Machine are to get things back on track.

Croker knows there needs to be a collective lift to avoid an upset.

"For our standards, our energy and attitude and a lot of other little things as well (weren't good enough) but they were the two main ones we got out of the Bulldogs game," Croker said.

Knights coach Nathan Brown will persist with young halves pairing Brock Lamb and Jaleen Feeney after naming dumped captain Trent Hodkinson as their 18th man.

Newcastle, having pushed Canberra to golden point last season in both games for one draw and one loss, hope to hit the Raiders hard early.

"It's important to go with them and match them in enthusiasm," Stuart said.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Newcastle have the worst run metres in the league, running for 371m on average less than their opponents each match

* The Raiders have struggled to win close ones over the past two-and-a-bit seasons, claiming only five and drawing one of 21 games decided by six points or less

* The Knights haven't conceded less than three tries in a match since round 24, 2015

Source: Fox Sports Stats

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