Raiders smash hapless Tigers to seal finals spot

Canberra rubber stamped their return to the finals in style by smashing Wests Tigers 56-10 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday to lock up eighth spot on the NRL ladder.

The victory in front of 10,041 fans means the Raiders travel to Melbourne for an elimination final next weekend after missing out on a top-eight spot last year.

Canberra have enjoyed seven wins from their last eight games and go to Melbourne knowing they have beaten the Storm at AAMI Park on four successive visits.

The Tigers finish 2022 with the wooden spoon for the first time in their history and it will take more than the return of Tim Sheens as head coach to have them close to being a finals contender.

After Brisbane were beaten by St George Illawarra on Saturday, the only way Canberra could have missed the eight was if they had lost to the Tigers by 54 points.

Even though Ricky Stuart rested skipper Elliott Whitehead and five-eighth Jack Wighton, there was no hope the Tigers would come anywhere near to that tally.

The Raiders steamed through the Tigers with embarrassing ease and finished the first half 42-0 up - six points short of the NRL's record first-half margin, set by Newcastle against North Queensland in 2003.

By the 35th minute every member of the Raiders backline - Xavier Savage, Nick Cotric, Matt Timoko, Seb Kris and Jordan Rapana - had got on the scoresheet and halfback Jamal Fogarty converted all seven of their first-half tries.

The pick of the tries in the Raiders' first-half onslaught came from winger Rapana.

Stand-in five-eighth Matt Frawley sent Kris through a gap on a shortside, and after slicing through the Tigers' defence he popped the ball up for a supporting Rapana to finish.

Hudson Young continued the rout with a barge-over, with Savage and Fogarty also crossing before half-time.

When the Raiders kicked dead towards the end of the first half, ironic cheers rang out from the fans, before the Tigers were booed off at the break.

Savage went off momentarily in the second half with an ankle complaint and the Tigers found some rhythm with Daine Laurie and Ken Maumalo reducing the significant deficit.

Hudson Young got the Raiders back on track when he jinked his way the middle, earning himself an early mark before rampaging prop Josh Papalii finished the job off.