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Raiders skipper eyes new golden era

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016 By Roje Adaimy

Jarrod Croker admires what Canberra achieved two decades ago but the skipper wants to make 2016 the start of a new golden era for the NRL club.

The second-placed Raiders are looking to add a chapter to what's already been a history-making season when they play third-placed Cronulla in Saturday night's qualifying final at GIO Stadium.

They haven't been this far since 2012, when they beat the Sharks at home in week one of the finals.

That was their sixth win a row. This weekend, they're chasing their 11th straight.

It's a feat they've achieved twice before - in 1989/90 and 1994/95, streaks which included their 1989 and 1994 grand final wins.

They've had little success since but Ricky Stuart's men are on a mission.

"It was obviously a good era back in the late 80s, early 90s and to be just a small part of that would be great," Croker said on Friday.

"We want to create our own history.

"We've gone a long way to achieving that ... but we've got a lot more to do and a lot more to prove.

"Hopefully it's just the start of a good future for the club."

Statistics don't favour the Raiders who have lost nine of their past 11 finals matches, six of them by 16 points or more.

But Croker, who broke his cheekbone in their 2012 qualifying final against the Sharks and missed their sudden-death loss to South Sydney the following week, said things were different this time.

"We're in a lot more commanding position this year," he said.

"The boys have really worked hard to get up here, so we're pretty excited to not let that slip."

While the Raiders have enjoyed a winning run to the playoffs, the premiership-less Sharks have triumphed only once in their past six matches.

But Croker said there was no chance of the Raiders underestimating their task.

"You only have to look at the calibre of player they have - backline and forward pack," he said.

"They've got plenty of experience and plenty of representative players, so they know what big games are about."

STATS THAT MATTER: RAIDERS V SHARKS

* The Sharks have never won a final outside Sydney, losing six from six.

* Canberra have scored more than 20 points in each of their past 10 games, while Cronulla have managed just six in two of their past three.

* Only one of three teams who have entered a finals series on a 10-game winning streak has gone on to win the premiership since 1954 - the Sydney Roosters in 1975.

(Source: Fox Sports Stats)

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