The Harold Matthews Panthers have snapped a three-game losing streak, outlasting Canberra 22-20 in a thrilling result at St Marys Stadium on Saturday.
After soaring to an early 20-0 lead, Penrith found themselves leading by just two points in the final minute of the game. But they defended back-to-back sets on their try line in the dying moments to seal the win.
The Panthers made the perfect start to Saturday afternoon’s game, scoring within the first three minutes when five-eighth Jake Hay took on the line and sliced through.
Soon after they had their second. A strong charge from Lafaele Tauapai brought Penrith within metres of the try line and they quickly shifted it left, with a slick backline spread seeing Sione Neiufi cross over.
Neither try was converted, seeing the difference remain eight points after just as many minutes.
Penrith were making plenty of inroads through the middle, with Canberra penalised early trying to slow down charging runs from hooker-turned-lock Ryley Smith.
And the Panthers didn’t let one opportunity pass.
This time, a lovely cut-out pass from Jack Cole sent Jesse Buchan diving over in the corner to extend their lead to 12.
The sideline conversion was successful from Hay, seeing Penrith push their lead out to 14.
And Smith was later rewarded for his hard work as he forced his way over in the 15th minute for Penrith’s fourth try of the half, the difference extended to 20.
Building leads hadn’t been an issue for the Panthers in recent weeks though. But they offered the Raiders few opportunities in the first half, with fullback Kai Hillen intercepting a long ball before being pulled up 20 metres out from the try line.
He then drew a penalty and was held down too long by Tyrel Kimori-Edmond, with the Canberra winger sin-binned for his actions.
The Raiders refused to give in though, eventually crossing on the siren through Joseph Delle.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 20 Raiders 4
Canberra carried their momentum into the second half, and after a string of penalties, Penrith cracked as five-eighth Henry Alesi strolled over in the 30th minute.
And ill-discipline continued to cost the Panthers, with another penalty marching the Raiders upfield before Eneseli Kamuta barged over next to the posts.
Both tries were converted, seeing Penrith’s lead reduced to four.
And soon their lead was no more as Alesi took the line on once more and stepped through to score, with the unsuccessful conversion setting up a thrilling finish with both sides locked at 20-all.
A surging run from Alfred Uelese brought the Panthers within 10 metres of the try line, and the temptation was too much, with the Raiders penalised for a leg pull. Hay slotted the penalty goal from right in front as Penrith regained the lead.
They weren’t home though, holding on after surviving a late onslaught.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 22 Raiders 20