The NYC Panthers have jumped to equal first on the Holden Cup ladder after a 28-22 win over Canberra Raiders at Pepper Stadium.
The Panthers were kept honest for large parts of the game as a dogged Canberra outfit kept themselves within reach, before the Panthers ran in two second-half tries to seal victory.
The Panthers enjoyed the brighter start in the game and made it count when they crossed over in the 9th minute through Billy Burns. A deft grubber from Sam Martin-Savage found space behind the Raiders line, eventually bouncing kindly for the onrushing Burns to swoop and score. Dean Blore added the conversion to give his side a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders would hit back immediately through Jack Murchie. The backrower straightened the Raiders attack and found himself in space to race through and put his side on the scoreboard. Andre Niko’s conversion drifted wide, remaining at 6-4.
Good fortune handed the Panthers their second try following a ricocheted kick off the boot of Blore. A kick intended for the corner deflected off a Raiders player and sat invitingly for the halfback to dive upon and slide over next to the posts. He would convert his own try to push their score out to 12-4.
Again the Raiders would waste little time in responding, this time receiving their own slice of good fortune. Emre Guler scooped a miskick and exploited a broken defensive line to run to the line, before Niko’s conversion made it 12-10.
The see-sawing contest continued on the half hour mark after a deadly one-two from Richie Munchow and Brian Too. A right-sided raid saw Munchow burn his opposite man for pace before putting his winger in space, eventually stepping past the Raiders fullback on his way to the try line. Blore’s kick was unsuccessful, keeping the score at 16-10.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 16 – 10 Canberra Raiders
The Raiders came out of half-time full of energy and found themselves level ten minutes in courtesy of Murchie’s second try. The backrower isolated his man in defence and barged his way over, before Niko levelled the scores at 16-all.
Much like the first half, the opposition team would respond almost instantly and the Panthers would do so thanks to Daniel Brown. The winger marked his return to the side after injury with a try in the corner after a superbly weighted cut-out pass from Caleb Aekins found him in space. Blore slotted his conversion from the sideline to make it 22-16.
With ten minutes remaining on the clock, the Panthers sealed the win thanks to Jake Brennan. The hard-hitting forward charged on to a short ball and shrugged off a defender to crash over. Blore’s fourth conversion pushed the score out to 28-16.
A late consolation to Sebastian Cris wasn’t enough as the Panthers held on to go joint top of the Holden Cup ladder.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 28 – 22 Canberra Raiders