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Raiders No.3 after trouncing Rabbitohs

AAP logoAAP 31/07/2016 By Steve Zemek

Canberra have made a statement about their NRL premiership credentials with a 54-4 flogging of hapless South Sydney that sent them to third on the ladder.

It was a reminder to pundits that the NRL title race has a wider field than Cronulla, Melbourne and North Queensland as they ran in 10 tries to one in front of a disappointing crowd of 10,076 at ANZ Stadium.

While they leapfrogged defending premiers North Queensland on the ladder, coach Ricky Stuart was keenly aware they face a real litmus test of their form in the next fortnight when they face frontrunners Cronulla and Melbourne.

For the Rabbitohs it was another reminder of just how far they have fallen as pressure mounts for coach Michael Maguire.

Their eighth straight loss was their worst in a decade, bringing up memories of a 66-0 flogging they suffered at the hands of the Warriors in 2006, when they finished last on the ladder.

The Rabbitohs had injury added to insult as Luke Keary suffered a hamstring strain which may spell the end of his playing days at Redfern.

While Stuart was quick to play down his Raiders' premiership credentials, they could hardly have been more impressive as Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua ran riot down the right side.

"Timing is a big thing in rugby league," Stuart said.

"Things can turn very nasty on you very quickly, so we take it a day at a time.

"I'm very fortunate that the boys are buying in. If you've got your players buying into your culture and believing in it, we're very fortunate."

The victory was the Raiders' biggest-ever win over the Rabbitohs, surpassing their 48-0 win at the SFS in 1990 and the Green Machine's fans couldn't help but be reminded of the club's heyday of the late 80s and early 90s.

Looking ahead to the next clash with hotshots Cronulla, a cautious Stuart warned: "If we can keep within three or four tries of Cronulla next week, we've had a huge improvement.

"They dusted us up, bashed us around last game and beat us by 40 points."

Rapana had a hand in four of the Raiders' five first-half tries, offloading for Elliott Whitehead's opener, scooting out of dummy-half for the next and diving on a Leilua grubber on the stroke of halftime for his second.

The 26-year-old winger sent a message to Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney as he notched his 14th try of the year.

As well as his double, he finished with two try assists, three linebreaks and six tackle busts in a standout effort.

The Rabbitohs were dreadful, handing over the ball cheaply inside their own 20m zone on several occasions and coming up with costly errors that led directly to points.

Asked if the Raiders should be considered the real deal, Maguire said: "They just put plenty of points on us.

"They're doing things right. Moving into the back end of the season, that's the biggest key - you've got to be strong defensively.

"All those teams can put on points at some stage but it's about defence."

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