Penrith have secured their first back to back win of the season, beating the Raiders 26-20 at GIO stadium.
It was a game where both sides made plenty of mistakes and the lead changed hands several times, with Canberra bringing their A-game for the full 80 minutes.
It was a horror start for the Panthers who let the Raiders score a try in the first minute of the match. Josh Papalii got a late offload away to Glen Buttriss on the halfway line, and he flicked the ball to Brett White who took off through a hole in our defence and made 20m before passing to winger Reece Robinson, who sprinted down the sideline and ran in to score. Jarrod Croker converted, giving the home side an early 6-0 lead.
We hit back a few minutes later through the star combo of Dean Whare and Dave Simmons, who drew the Raiders defence in and left themselves enough room to do what they do best. Whare stepped inside before flicking the ball out to Simmons who was unmarked, and he dived over in the corner to score. Jamie Soward’s kick was waved away, so the score went to 6-4.
A few minutes later a Raiders mistake gave us our next try! A wayward pass fell into some open space and Josh Mansour ran onto it before flicking it to Matt Moylan, who took off down the field, sprinting 40m before being brought down. The ball made its way across the park before Soward sent a chip kick out to Mansour who was unmarked on the sideline and he ran the ball over the line. This time Soward’s kick was on target and the Panthers took the led 10-6, with 18 minutes gone.
We ran in our third unanswered try shortly after that thanks to some very quick ball play from our halves, with Pete Wallace passing the ball to Soward on the 10m line, and he spun on his heel and offloaded to Moylan, who side stepped his way around a few defenders to dive over the line. Soward narrowly missed the conversion, so Penrith extended their lead to 14-6.
In the 24th minute, the home side scored their next try after some very sloppy defence by Penrith. A couple of missed tackles and an unmarked Reece Robinson on the wing was always going to end in disaster, and with the conversion from Croker, Canberra was now just 2 points behind on the scoreboard. (14-12)
Another defensive blunder handed the Raiders another one in the 29th minute after our wingers were drawn off their marks, leaving Anthony Milford with enough room to flick a brilliantly timed pass to Croker on the 10m line, and he ran around a Panthers defender to plant the ball over the line. The kick was waved away, but the home side took the lead 16-14.
Penrith was under intense pressure and we would really have to lift our game if we were going to overcome the very determined Canberra outfit. With 6 minutes remaining, Matt Robinson copped a knock to the head and was taken off the field.
For the remainder of the half, both sides threw everything they had at each other, fighting hard to get close to their line, but there were no more points added to the board.
HALF TIME: 16-14 Raiders
We had a much better start to this half, scoring our first try in the first 5 minute. It began with a very gutsy run from Josh Mansour who broke through several tackles to get the ball within centimetres of our line. James Segeyaro picked the ball up from dummy half and quickly dived over to score. Soward put it straight through the posts, putting the Panthers back in front 20-16.
This seemed to inspire a bit more confidence in our boys and a few minutes later we were over again! After dancing around in the middle of the park for a while, we sent the ball to Whare on the right, who broke through a tackle to get within metres of our line. He offloaded to Moylan who flicked the ball to Simmons, and he dived over to score. Soward’s kick was on target again, so Penrith extended their lead to 26-16.
In the 55th minute a scuffle broke out on the Raiders try line, with Segeyaro put on report and Canberra awarded a penalty 10m out. Luckily, a dropped ball on the 3rd tackle handed possession back to the Panthers.
With 9 minutes on the clock, the home side scored their first try of the half after being awarded a third set of six, 10m out from their line. After numerous attempts at getting through Penrith’s back line, they finally broke through when Anthony Milford created a bit of space near the sideline and dived over, taking the corner post with him. The kick missed, so the score went to 26-20.
For the last few minutes of the match, the Raiders did everything they could to even the score, but our defence held strong and we came away with our first back to back win of the season.
FULL TIME: 26-20 Panthers