Stuart 'hurting' for young Raiders after Sharks mauling

It wasn't the milestone game Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was hoping for.

In his 500th match as a coach on Sunday, the Raiders legend saw his side slump to its largest loss to Cronulla.

The 40-0 drubbing was also the first time the Green Machine had been held scoreless before their home fans since 2013.

It was a humbling night for Stuart and his young charges.

"I felt embarrassed with that performance," he told reporters after the match.

Injuries to key players, including halfback Jamal Fogarty (ruptured biceps), forced Stuart's hand in fielding a far more inexperienced side than he would have liked against the in-form Sharks.

The Raiders' spine on Sunday included 19-year-old five-eight Ethan Strange, 18-year-old fullback Chevy Stewart, and 22-year-old Kaeo Weekes, who looked lost deputising in the unfamiliar halfback role on his club debut.

"I'm not backtracking from the path we've taken with a lot of those younger players but I didn't expect at this stage of the season having to play so many of them all together," Stuart said.

"They're hurting, and I'm hurting for them."

Stand-in captain Joseph Tapine was quick to assume responsibility for the performance.

"Us senior boys have to obviously step up way more than we have," he said.

While the absence of Fogarty was conspicuous in the Raiders' limp attacking showing, the representative-studded forward pack of Tapine, Josh Papali'i and Hudson Young had no excuses for their frail effort in defence.

Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes put on a clinic, scoring one try, setting up two, assisting three line breaks and capping it off with a 40-20.

This despite missing his own halves partner, Braydon Trindall, who faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines after being charged with drink-driving midweek.

The Raiders fell out of the top eight with their second loss in a row.

With four other teams level with them on eight points, another defeat next week away to an in-form Manly could drop them still further.

The likely return of skipper Elliott Whitehead against the Sea Eagles would be of great comfort to his shell-shocked teammates, but other senior figures face a prolonged wait on the sidelines.

"I've just got to be patient and keep working with the younger players because those boys who are injured, they're not back for a number of weeks," Stuart said.

"We've got two to three months of this. But I can assure you we'll keep working at it and play better."