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Improved defence driving Raiders

Sun, Aug 13, 2017 - 06:48PM
By ‌Corey Rosser‌‌, ‌NRL.com

They scored six tries and 36 points against the Warriors on Sunday, but it's the size of the number on the other side of the scoreboard which reflects why the Canberra Raiders are flying right now.

 

‌In keeping the downtrodden New Zealand outfit to just 16 points in their comprehensive victory on Sunday afternoon in Auckland, the Raiders made it five games in a row without conceding more than 20 points.

Across that period they average just 2.6 tries against and 16 points leaked per game, giving them one of the best defensive trends in the NRL Telstra Premiership over the last month and a half.

Second-rower Joseph Tapine, who got through 31 tackles in his 80 minutes at Mount Smart Stadium, pointed to a change in mindset as the driving factor in his side's improved work off the ball.

"I think it is just a bit of attitude, we have changed things up and are going in to our defence a bit more aggressive now," Tapine told NRL.com.

"It's been starting in the middle of the field and spreading to the edges. It is really paying off for us.

"It's at the level we set, but there's still some work to do."

The Raiders missed only 21 tackles against the Warriors, well below their prior season average of 30.6, and aside from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's try midway through the second half, they looked organised and confident in defence, only conceding following periods of prolonged second phase from their opponents.

But for coach Ricky Stuart the most important statistic in relation to keeping the Warriors to only 16 points was his side's 76 per cent completion rate, which limited their time spent tackling. 

"What has been our biggest issue is error and putting too much pressure on our defence," Stuart said.

"There's been games there where we have had less than 50 per cent of the football, completed at 56 or 57 per cent, and still only getting beaten by a try, so I know where we have got to fix.

"The resilience, the heart, the courage in this footy team is unbelievable." 

Canberra will likely need their defence to be at its 2017 peak if they are to pick up results against the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm over the next three weeks, with both of those sides currently sitting in the competition's top five for points scored.   

 

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