The NYC Panthers prevailed 48-28 in an open and high-scoring affair against Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
The Panthers made a blistering start that would set the tone for the match in the 3rd minute when the familiar figure of Daniel Brown applied the finishing touches to a sweeping move to take his tally to 20 tries for the season and hand his side a 4-0 lead.
They had their second try in the 7th minute through Tevita Mapapalangi. Wayde Egan engaged the line before laying off to his front rower to crash over next to the uprights, allowing Dean Blore a simple conversion for a 10-0 lead.
Brown had a double inside ten minutes after a long-range effort from the restart. Toby Westcott and Sam Martin-Savage combined to break the Raiders line before finding Brown in support to convert the move. Blore slotted the kick to extend their lead to 16-0.
The Panthers managed to starve the Raiders of possession as the hosts waited until the 14th minute to touch the ball, but they made it count when Andre Niko raced away from the defence to post their first points. He would convert his own try to bring it back to 16-6.
However, an error from the restart gifted the Panthers an instant response when Egan took advantage of a flat-footed defence from dummy-half to restore their 16-point lead following Blore’s conversion.
The Panthers crossed for their fifth try midway through the half when Blore’s kick back in-field was swooped upon by halves partner Westcott, which Blore converted, to lead 28-6.
Jesse Abbott was in on the act for the visitors in the 25th minute after Daine Laurie carried the Panthers up field, with Abbott the beneficiary of the resulting overlap on the opposite wing. Blore knocked in the conversion to push out to a 34-6 lead.
Errors and a penalty from the Panthers allowed the hosts to post their second try when William Samuel ran on to a smart offload close to the line. Niko again converted to bring the score back to 34-12.
The Raiders went back-to-back just shy of the break when Niko scored his second as a whirlwind half, including nine tries, came to a close.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 16 – 34 Penrith Panthers
The Raiders emerged from the sheds intent on clawing their way back in to the contest and had their reward when Mikaele Ravalawa combined with Niko to score his first try. Niko’s conversion brought the home side back to within two converted tries at 34-22.
That try would kick the Panthers back in to gear when Egan and Blore combined to open space for Laurie to score acrobatically in the corner. Blore’s conversion pushed the Panthers out to 40-22.
The Panthers were in again past the hour mark when Richie Munchow’s line break led to Martin-Savage weaving his way over on the opposite flank. Blore added yet another two points to make it 46-22.
With ten minutes remaining, the Raiders added their fifth try through the powerful Ravalawa who got the better of Martin-Savage and Brown to get his second. Niko’s conversion made it 46-28.
A penalty goal to Blore on the full-time siren put an exclamation mark on a rampant victory that moved the Panthers in to outright second on the Holden Cup ladder.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 28 – 48 Penrith Panthers