One of the reasons why Canberra couldn't grab the minor premiership in 2016 proved their undoing in making the finals this season, as they struggled to close out the tight encounters.
10 of Canberra's games were decided by six points or less. The Raiders won just two of those games and lost the other eight. Four of these matches were decided in golden point with 3 losses and 1 win to Canberra's name The most heartbreaking of close losses came when they surrendered an eight point lead with two minutes to go in Bathurst against Penrith.
It's unknown as to why Canberra can't win the majority of close matches that they're involved in, but it's something they need to work on in order to be a threat come finals time in future seasons. Close games is one of the aspect of what finals football entails. The Raiders have plenty of game-breakers; 'Leipana', Blake Austin, Josh Hodgson and teen sensation Nick Cotric but when it comes to the crunch, the nerves come to the surface and the Green Machine crumbles.
The Raiders have the firepower and the talent to ensure they can be a top four team with many predicting them to finish top four and even come close to taking out the premiership this year however they finished an underwhelming 10th. If Ricky Stuart can focus on closing out results and plan on how they can win close encounters in the pre-season, Canberra should work their way back into the eight more comfortably.
Some players have also shown they can have lapses of concentration, leaving them easily exposed in defence, while certain attitudes to particular plays on the field sparked allegations that players didn't get along. Focus is key for this Raiders side and when they're on song together, they can beat almost any side with their unpredictability.
Despite their disappointing ladder position at the end of the season, the positive signs are there to indicate that they should definitely be back stronger. The impressive start to the career of 18 year-old Nick Cotric was something to get the proud Canberra fans excited in the nation's capital. Cotric played every minute of every game for the Raiders and scored 16 tries, second to Jordan Rapana only in the Raiders team.
Best player: Jordan Rapana
Top tryscorer: Jordan Rapana (21)
Top pointscorer: Jarrod Croker (190)