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Panthers roll Raiders in tight tussle

The Harold Matthews Panthers secured a nail-biting 22-18 victory over Canberra Raiders at Belconnen Oval on Saturday.

Bouncing back from an early 12-0 deficit, Penrith playmakers Jett Cleary and Kayyden Hoad were particularly impressive and had a hand in every point-scoring play for the visitors.

The game started on a sour note for the Panthers as fullback Joshua Debritt departed the contest with a knee injury after only two minutes.

Moments later five-eighth Cleary kicked a 40/20 to put his team on the attack but the Panthers were denied the opening points by a forward pass call, just as Angus Thomson broke clear.

Instead it was the Raiders who grabbed the first try of the day in the 15th minute. Canberra hooker Xavier Cacciotti flicked a short ball to centre Siamani Leuluai, who barged through the Panthers defence.

Winger Samuel Gash added the extras, making the score 6-0.

From the ensuing kick-off, the Raiders earned a penalty for a strip and were immediately able to capitalise. As the ball was spread out wide, Leuluai again found a gap in the defensive line to dive over for his double.

Gash converted from the sideline, extending the Raiders lead to 12.

The Panthers hit back in the 24th minute as hooker Jenson Tuaoi scooped up the ball from dummy half to score under the posts.

Cleary slotted the ball between the sticks to bring the Panthers within six.

­­­­Backrower Semisi Faasisila pounced on a chip kick from Cleary minutes later, crossing the line to bring Penrith within two points of the home side.

Cleary’s conversion levelled the scores right before the break.


Poor discipline from Canberra gave the Panthers three back-to-back penalties in the opening minutes of the second half.

It was some textbook attack from Penrith that continued their run of points with Jaxen Edgar creating an overlap before flicking the ball to David Afu, who ran away untouched to score.

Six minutes later a clever short ball to Tana Papu saw the Panthers interchange forward muscle his way through the Canberra line to touch down.

The simple conversion from Cleary increased the visitors' lead to 10 points with 15 minutes left in the game.

Five minutes later Canberra gave themselves a chance at a comeback victory when Gash took an intercept and ran away to score.

The winger converted his own try to make the score 22-18 in favour of Penrith.

However the Panthers were able to repel the Raiders attacking raids in the final minutes and secure their second victory of the season.


Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.