22 Aug 2016

Raiders secure top four spot in NRL

8:48 am on 22 August 2016

After an eighth straight win that shored up a top-four finish for his side, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has done his best to hose down any hype around the Raiders' 2016 premiership hopes.

Canberra Raiders head coach Ricky Stuart. Former Australia Kangaroos and New South Wales State of Origin head coach.

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Speaking after his team's comeback 28-18 win over a determined Eels outfit at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Stuart repeatedly insisted this year's finals series would be an educational experience for his young squad, most of whom are strangers to September football.

Captain Jarrod Croker and back-rower Josh Papalii were the only players in action on Sunday to appear in the club's last finals campaign in 2012 and there are only a small handful of other players - centre Joey Leilua, English imports Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson, and veteran Sia Soliola - who have played big matches elsewhere.

"We haven't done anything yet," was Stuart's blunt assessment after confirming the top-four finish and first finals berth in four seasons.

"I've got a very young playing group there. We're going to go into a semi-finals series without a lot of experience which will probably, it's going to be difficult, it's going to be tough.

"But the experience we'll learn going into the semi-finals this year is going to be outstanding going into the next two, three, four years for this club. We've got a very good future. Whatever happens in the semi-finals series it's going to be a wonderful education for us going forward.

"They say you need experience to win semi-final football. Maybe that will be the case but it will give us a great education going into next year and the years after that. We're very happy with where we sit but we haven't achieved anything yet.

"Outside the fact that we're in the top four and I'm very proud of their players and their efforts for putting us in that position. The future, who knows?"

Meanwhile a rampant Roosters outfit has officially ended the Dragons' hopes of playing finals football with a crushing 42-6 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Needing to win their final three games of the regular season - and results to go their way - the Red V were simply never in the contest as the Tricolours secured their third win from their past four starts to rise up to 13th spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder.

There was no stopping the three-time defending minor premiers who belied their lowly ranking in what was a faultless performance from start to finish.