Digital Image by Robb Cox ©nrlphotos.com: :NYC Rugby League;  Canberra Raiders V Penrith Panthers, at Canberra Stadium, Sunday the 18th of May 2014.

The Panthers have lost their second game in a row, going down 34-16 to an enthusiastic Raiders side, in what was one of our worst defensive performances all year.

Canberra named a very different side from the one that got walloped by the Warriors last weekend, with five SG Ball players called up for duty. Despite their inexperience, their defence was impressive and they capitalised on every Panthers mistake to put points on the board.

Penrith had a couple of late changes with Peter Tia Tia and Christian Creighton getting the call up from SG Ball to team up on our left side. They added some spark to the side but it didn’t make up for the handling errors and sloppy play that ultimately cost us the game.

Here’s how the match played out.

Penrith got off to We had a close call six minutes into the match when Canberra got the ball to their 10m line and charged forward, and Cleveland McGhie snatched the ball up and dived over, but the ref called knock on so it was a turnover to Penrith.

The Panthers then had a chance to put the first points on the board, when Corey Harawira broke through the Raiders backline and sprinted down the field before being brought down 20m out. Sam Scarlett then sent a beautiful ball to Brent Naden and he barged his way towards the line, but lost the ball as he hit the ground.

It was the home side that eventually scored first after halfback Matthew Frawley put a grubber kick over to the left side and Lachlan Hurst ran in to score. The kick was waved away, so the Raiders took a 4-0 lead, 15 minutes in.

They backed that up 8 minutes later when Lachlan Lewis got the ball to Cleveland McGhie on the 10m line, and he ran straight through a hole in Penrith’s back line and went over to score unopposed. The conversion from in front gave the home side a 10-0 lead.

A Panther mistake gave the Raiders their next four-pointer when we dropped a bomb 10m out from their line, and Lachlan Croker picked the ball up from the bounce and raced over to score behind the posts. The kick went straight through the uprights, and with just over 10 minutes until the half time break the home side had a 16-0 lead.

Two minutes later we finally got the breakthrough we’d been waiting for, thanks to the quick feet of Sam Scarlett who got the ball from dummy half, dodged a Raiders defender and dived for the line taking several defenders with him. Corey Harawira’s boot was on target, so the score went to 16-6.

A few minutes later we backed that up with another try when Peter Tia Tia was handed the ball a few metres out, and he drove himself hard at the line and went over to score in the right corner. Harawira missed the tricky sideline conversion, so the Panthers narrowed the score to 16-10.

In the final minute of the match, the home side went over again through big #16 Tevita Pangai Junior, who used his size and power to push his way over under the posts. With the conversion, Canberra went into the half time break with a 12 point lead.

HALF TIME: 22-10 Raiders

Like the first 40 minutes, it took a while to get the scoring underway in this half, and again it was the home side that broke through first. After finding a gap in Penrith’s defence on their 40m line, Lachlan Croker took off down the field, breaking through several tackles to run the ball over the line. The kick from in front went straight through the uprights, so Canberra extended their lead to 28-10, with 54 minutes gone.

The Panthers hit back in the 66th when Atonio Pelesasa was handed the ball a few metres out from our line and he side stepped a couple of Raiders defenders to ground the ball over the line. Harawira converted from in front, taking the score to 28-16.

Then with 7 minutes of the match remaining, Canberra extended their lead even further when they drew our players off their marks and sent the ball out wide to winger Lachlan Hurst who was unmarked, and he jogged over to score.

The final nail in the coffin was a penalty goal awarded to the home side with less than 2 minutes on the clock, handing them a 34-16 win.

FULL TIME: 34-16 Raiders