Raiders embrace NRL dark horse status - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders embrace NRL dark horse status

By Steve Jancetic & Bonny Symons-Brown 13/09/2010 07:21:48 PM Comments (0)

Canberra's stunning road to the NRL finals has barely rated a mention, but co-captain Alan Tongue says the side's low profile has actually worked a charm.

With nine wins from their last ten games, the Raiders are on a hotter streak than premiership runners up Parramatta were at the same point last year, having had eight victories from nine.

However, the hype surrounding the Eels has far surpassed any chatter about Canberra's chances of a finals fairytale in 2010.

Despite their sensational form, Tongue isn't upset that the team has flown under most radars so far.

"I think that's one of the greatest assets of being in Canberra, you can get shielded from (the hype) a little bit," he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"We're not too concerned about that, if anything it's a good thing for us, we just get on and do our business and hopefully keep winning footy games and the recognition will come then."

Indeed, the Raiders' dream will be one step closer to reality if they manage to beat the Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium on Friday night and book a preliminary finals berth.

It's been a long time between drinks for the green machine, who last progressed past the second week of the finals in 1995.

They've also lost their last four matches against the Tigers, and have only one win over them since 2006.

Tongue, who is likely to return from his calf injury for the crucial clash, said he wasn't feeling the pressure.

"It's just a matter of going out there and replicating what we've been doing for the last two months," he said.

"That pressure of not knowing whether we are going to be in the comp if we lost a game, we've had that for the last eight or nine weeks, it's just a matter of going out and enjoying the atmosphere."

The veteran lock was devastated to be hurt during Canberra's penultimate regular round game against North Queensland, but coach David Furner assured him he'd soon return to the field.

Tongue said the kept promise was a great example of just how confident the Raiders' players and staff were feeling.

"I'm so proud of them - three months ago not many people had given us much chance at all," he said.

"Now to show them what we've been doing is pretty good."

Canberra forward David Shillington wasn't ready to predict a resurrection of the team's glory days but said the players were inspired by the deeds of former club greats like Mal Meninga.

"You walk around our gym and there's the premiership flags up on the wall there from `89 and 1994 and you see all the big names up there," he said.

"It's pretty exciting to have such rich history like that not so long ago, it's exciting to bring that success back and hopefully we can go all the way this year."

Furner has flagged there will probably only be some subtle changes to the line up that narrowly beat Penrith on Saturday, ahead of Friday night's clash against the Tigers.

The coach also vowed to prepare his team for star playmaker Benji Marshall's return from a bruised medial ligament.

Raiders utility Daniel Vidot says while Marshall is a threat, he's putting thoughts of the Tigers' good record against Canberra to the back of his mind.

"I think our team is a different team (since those losses)," he said.

"We've won a lot of games now and we are on a bit of a roll and so hopefully that carries on."

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