CANBERRA Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was a disconsolate figure as he faced media after his side suffered a fifth straight defeat to Newcastle at Wagga on Saturday.
But the message from the man they call 'Sticky' was the team would stick together as they look to rebuild a season slowly plunging into the abyss.
Once again a second half fadeout cost them dearly, with the Raiders squandering a 16-0 halftime lead to concede 24 unanswered points after the break.
They are now tenth on the NRL ladder with a 3-6 record with tough matches against Melbourne and the Roosters to come over the next three weeks.
Stuart said emerging from the losing streak will be a test of his team's resolve.
"My concern is for the boys and making sure they handle it and stick together, and keep working to try and get through this rough patch.
"Losing two of your middles (Ryan Sutton and Joe Tapine to injuries) doesn't help, (but) it's not an excuse."
The Raiders had chances to put their foot on Newcastle's throat in the second half, but some poor execution and decision making cost them dearly.
Josh Papalii and Jordan Rapana put in grubber kicks early in tackle counts after making breaks downfield when taking the tackle may have been the wiser option.
Centre Sebastian Kris was held up over the try-line when Canberra led 16-6 when he could have passed to unmarked winger Bailey Simonsson. Fullback Caleb Aekins also failed to ground the ball chasing a kick when the Knights led 18-16 late.
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"I think it was about four times we were over the line, or nearly over the line," Stuart said.
"When nothing's going for you and you're going through patches like this, it just seems to pile on top of each other like it is at the moment," Stuart said.
"I can't get fired up over a bunch of blokes doing everything they possibly can to play their best, and win a game of football.
"Things aren't going for us at the moment, we won games like that last year and probably got lucky, we got the bounce of the ball.
"I don't think it's composure. Papa (Papalii) kicks ahead for George (Williams), a bounce of the ball in the right direction and it bounces into George's arms (and we score).
"Rapa making that break down the sideline, we're just not getting that little bit of luck and not getting a bounce at the moment. We've just got to persevere and stay strong."
The Raiders had been in the headlines in the days leading up to the game, with Josh Hodgson standing down from the co-captaincy and George Williams' homesickness among the talking points.
"They're problems you read, they're not problems within the camp," Stuart said.
"As much as you want to read into it, they're problems everyone enjoys reading and speculating on but we're a happy camp in regards to what you read."
The Raiders will look to start turning their season around against last-placed Canterbury at next week's Magic Round in Brisbane.
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