Despite one almighty effort on Sunday afternoon, the Raiders season drew to an end as they exit the competition for 2023.

Of course, all the talk after the game was about the Jack Wighton biting incident, but it has largely overshadowed what was ultimately a below-par season for the Green Machine.

When the furore dies down, Raiders officials and fans will settle in and start to go over what went wrong for their side.

I've decided to save them the trouble by doing that very dissection of their 2023 season for them.

As with the Sharks, the Raiders season didn't end because of one overarching issue and more-so fell short due to a combination.

Below we look at what went wrong in the nation's capital and ultimately ended their 2023 season in week one of the finals.

Spine indecision

I was originally going to limit this to the fullback spot (more on that soon) but Ricky Stuart spent 27 rounds trying to decide on his strongest spine and we still don't know what it is.

With the greatest of respects to Zac Wolford and Matt Frawley, they're a long way from the quality possessed by other sides in finals contention.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Tom Starling doesn't play a much bigger role for the Raiders.

NRL Rd 24 - Raiders v Sea Eagles
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Tom Starling of the Raiders scores a try during the round 24 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Manly Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Jack Wighton played well at centre, but moving him out of the halves following Round 24 made little to no sense.

For mine though, the Raiders looked a far better side once Jordan Rapana was moved into fullback.

I am a big fan of Sebastian Kris and was happy to eat humble pie early in the season, after criticising the move, but ultimately he just isn't a modern-day fullback.

By no means am I blaming Kris for the Raiders failures this season, but Xavier Savage played one NRL game this season, while Jordan Rapana was brilliant once finally moved into the number one.

I don't know what the club's plan with the aforementioned Savage is but after lighting the competition up, albeit in a short stint, he only played six of his 14 games this season (13 in NSW Cup) at fullback.

With Jack Wighton exiting the club, Jamal Fogarty looks like the only player with a nailed on spot in next year's spine too.

For fans sake, I hope Stuart and co work out their one, six and nine far sooner than it took in 2023 to settle on a spine.

No lead is safe

They don't call them the Faders for nothing.

No side in the competition can squander a lead quite like the men in lime green.

Most of the elite sides in the competition are able to enjoy partial weeks off. By that I mean they run up a considerable lead and can take the foot off the pedal. Even rest players.

Not so this Canberra side.

It must be exhausting as a fan heading into the final ten minutes with a lead, only to wonder how your team can possibly give it up this weekend.

Mentally that must be in the back of players minds. It has to be!

This directly plays into the next major fault from this year's Canberra team.

Couldn't land that marquee, big win

Canberra's biggest winning margin of the season was 12 points. That was against the lowly Bulldogs. Their second biggest was just 10 points, over the Dragons.

They simply couldn't put a side away. Or even register an elusive 13+ win.

They were leading the Bulldogs by 18 points with two minutes to go. They conceded a lazy try to prop Liam Knight to send Canberra fans into a justified meltdown of frustration.

There is no law that says you need to win by big margins, but I honestly couldn't name that win in 2023 on which the Raiders could hang their hat on.

The Bulldogs, Dolphins, Dragons and Tigers all enjoyed big wins. Those are bottom four teams.

What made anyone think that Canberra could lift and blow Newcastle away last weekend? Sure they started well, but as mentioned in the previous entry, you just knew they'd throw it away.

NRL Rd 9 - Raiders v Dolphins
WAGGA WAGGA, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 29: Jack Wighton of the Raiders in action during the round nine NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and Dolphins at McDonalds Park on April 29, 2023 in Wagga Wagga, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

For all the talk of the Sharks not being able to beat the top sides, it seemed to go under the radar that Canberra couldn't put together an 80 minute effort to blow away any side. Good, bad or indifferent.

That has to play on your mind at some stage.

The 2016 Knights are the only team I can confidently name as a side going an entire season without a big win. They finished dead last and won only one game all season.

Canberra played the Finals. With a points differential of -137. Only the bottom three teams of the Dragons, Tigers and Dogs had worse points differentials.

Hand on heart, I have no idea how this Canberra side even qualified for finals. If not for a brilliant effort in the Hunter on the weekend, this season would be remembered as an absolute horror show.