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Raiders 'building' but have top 4 hopes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/07/2016 Roje Adaimy

Canberra believe they have a team good enough to be in the NRL's top four, but not yet the 80-minute game to consistently beat top teams.

The fifth-placed Raiders - coming off a bye - have an opportunity to leapfrog defending premiers North Queensland or Canterbury with a win over the Warriors at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

Coach Rick Stuart's team have won their past three matches and six of their last seven, setting them up for their first finals appearance since 2012.

But veteran Sia Soliola isn't prepared to look that far ahead, insisting the young side is still building.

"We always like to believe we can be there ... but one week at a time is far enough for us," he said on Wednesday.

"I think it's pretty clear that we need to bust out some good 80-minute grinding-style footy.

"There's a lot of times where we've had really good lapses, whether it be first half or second half, but we haven't really linked two halves together - that's where really need to improve on."

Halfback Aidan Sezer agreed, saying 60-minute efforts were not enough.

"We're lacking that extra 20 minutes to put on a clinical performance," he said.

"We're working towards that, we're doing it at training, and it's one of our main goals."

Soliola said it was hard to predict how long it would take for the Raiders to get there, but was confident they were close.

"They say Rome wasn't built in a day, so neither will this club," he added.

"We're moving in the right direction."

The Raiders will be without back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste (ankle) for up to six weeks, meaning star Josh Hodgson will have to step up and play 80 minutes at dummy-half.

Baptiste's absence, though, has allowed coach Ricky Stuart to load his bench with big men - Soliola, lock Luke Bateman and props Paul Vaughan and Joe Tapine - to help counteract a similarly intimidating Warriors pack.

"It's going to be a good battle in the middle for us," Soliola said.

Sezer is wary of the New Zealand side's unpredictability and doesn't want to get caught in a shoot-out.

"I think if you're going tit-for-tat with them they'll probably beat you to the punch most of the time," he said.

"We're looking to just grind away again and hopefully come over the top of them."

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