Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has lambasted his team’s effort against Newcastle, claiming the Raiders played like children in their worst defensive effort in two years.
The joint premiership favourites were barely in the contest against the Knights, completing at just 59 per cent in the opening half hour as they lost 34-18.
It marked the most points they have conceded in a match since August 2018, as they missed 25 tackles and too often handed the ball over on their own line.
“It’s one of those games you want to forget really quickly,” Stuart said.
“Because we were really poor.
“We were not in the contest at all tonight. We didn’t accept the challenge and Newcastle were very good.
“We’ll take what we didn’t bring to the game out of it and make sure we have it going forward because tonight was unacceptable.”
The loss marked the Raiders’ first of the year, after last week’s defeat of the Storm had them rise to equal favourites alongside the Sydney Roosters.
Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best ran riot on the Knights’ left edge, with Best getting a double and Ponga having a hand in four tries.
The Raiders also made errors in the lead up to four of the Knights’ six tries, twice conceding off the scrum base when Newcastle took the play centrefield 10 metres out.
“Defensively tonight we were the worst we have defended in two years,” Stuart said.
“It was a very poor showing of commitment in defence. And it’s not just the edges, and I know you will talk about the right edge.
“It all starts in the middle. We played like children tonight.”