Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was in no mood for a long chat with media after his side’s crushing 30-10 preliminary final loss to the Storm on Friday night.
Melbourne were in devastatingly clinical form against Canberra at Suncorp Stadium, with a blistering first 25 minutes from the Storm helping them race to a four-try lead.
From there it was difficult for the Raiders to work their way back into the contest, leaving them one game short of reaching their second-straight grand final after last year’s heartbreaking defeat to the Roosters.
With Canberra’s NRL premiership drought set to continue, Stuart was clearly deflated after the game on Friday evening, and only answered one question from reporters before prematurely excusing himself.
To his credit though, he covered a lot of ground in his one answer, and praised Melbourne on their performance.
“The first 25 minutes that we had no footy, we didn’t defend well,” Stuart said.
“Four tries to nil was really disappointing, because we were passive in defence. We didn’t start well, and it’s not us.
“I can handle the loss, I can understand the loss, but I’m just really disappointed we didn’t play to our… we didn’t have one of our better games tonight. That was the disappointing part from a coaching point of view.
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“It’s a game that as a coach disappoints you because you’re better than that. But Melbourne did a really good job. They did a wonderful job of using the weight of possession they had, and to our character and the resilience in the team, we hung around and tried to turn it around.
“But Melbourne just wouldn’t let us. It made it a tough night.
“I’m very proud of where we got to, but disappointed in not going one step further, because I think we were better than what we showed tonight.
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“You can’t take it for granted getting to this position in the season because you fight so hard to get here and put so much work into getting to this stage of the season. And for us to let ourselves down like that in the first 25 minutes is the disappointing part.
“I can handle the loss but I genuinely wish Craig and Cameron and their team all the best for next week.”
Before another reporter could get in the next question, Stuart simply said, “cheers”, and walked off, leaving media in the room stunned.
“Just one question? That’s it?” a journalist could be heard saying after Stuart left.
“Sorry guys,” the Raiders’ media manager told media as the press conference came to an abrupt end, lasting a total of just over two minutes.