AAP Rugby

Tigers at crossroads after Raiders mauling

By AAP Newswire

Ivan Cleary is adamant the wheels haven't fallen off the bus after his Wests Tigers slumped to a 48-12 loss to Canberra at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday.

Returning Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson inspired the Raiders to their nine-tries-to-two thrashing, the club's biggest win of the season.

It was the Tigers' seventh loss in nine games, leaving their season at a crossroads after holding so much promise in the early rounds.

They were missing Josh Reynolds (hamstring) and Benji Marshall (calf) and they lost Matt McIlwrick (ankle), Mahe Fonua (suspected broken arm) and Chris Lawrence (concussion) during the game.

After being fourth after seven rounds, they head into the representative bye in 10th after being leaped by the Raiders and four points outside the eight.

Tigers coach Cleary admitted his side lost touch with the game mentally after going 22-12 down following Nick Cotric's try early in the second half.

The Tigers conceded eight unanswered tries from the 27th minute mark, prompting Cleary to question whether his side had hit a mental roadblock after 15 straight weeks of football.

"Of course there is," Cleary said when asked if there was still optimism they could give the competition a shake.

"But there's not a lot of energy in the sheds at the moment.

"We've had 15 weeks and I really think once we lost touch with the game mentally - because on the scoreboard there's no real reason to have lost - but for whatever reason we did.

"That's what happens in games, you lose contact and mentally check out."

Even with Moses Mbye about to arrive on a mid-season switch and the club being linked to former skipper Robbie Farah, their season appears to be on the wane.

The winning margin could've been greater after Jack Wighton and Shannon Boyd were dubiously denied by the video referee.

The Tigers opened up a 12-4 lead and it looked like things were going to get worse for the Raiders when Blake Austin was sin-binned in the 23rd minute.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart responded by injecting Hodgson - who was making his return following a long-term ACL knee injury - into the game and his impact was immediate as he set up a Josh Papalii try.

The Tigers led 12-10 at the break but by the time Cotric, who responded to his omission from the NSW Origin squad in the best way possible, spun his way over the line, the Raiders were in front 22-12 and the horse had bolted.

"I thought the performance last week (in their loss to Penrith) could have flicked a switch. We were a little bit flat to start the game tonight. But the way we played last week we needed to repeat," Stuart said.

"Because last week showed that we are a lot better than where we are on the table. That's our job now to get up the table."