The Panthers scored a point per minute in the second half to run out 53-12 winners over the Raiders on Friday night, in what was the biggest score put up by a team so far in 2023.
While you wouldn't have known it by watching the second half, the game was closely contested through the opening 40 minutes, and the Panthers led by just seven points after a Sunia Turuva double and a Nathan Cleary field goal.
But after an admirable first-half effort, the Raiders had no answer for what the defending premiers came out of the break with, as the Panthers found their attacking mojo and ran in seven tries to their opponent's one.
The real damage was done in the first 12 minutes of the second period, during which time Izack Tago scored a quickfire double and Cleary got over for his 50th NRL try to shoot the Panthers clear.
The Panthers light it up
Further strikes from Zac Hosking, Tyrone Peachey, Stephen Crichton and Jaeman Salmon made for a miserable night at GIO Stadium for much of the 15,334 in attendance.
The result gave co-captain Isaah Yeo a win in game number 200, while improving Penrith to a 2-2 record, having had the bye in Round 3.
One potential negative to come out of the win was a knee injury to Test prop James Fisher-Harris, who left the field on 21 minutes and didn't return, although reports suggested he could have if required.
Match: Raiders v Panthers
Round 5 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- Panthers interchange forwards Lindsay Smith (115 metres) and Spencer Leniu (133 metres) both had big games for the defending premiers.
- Penrith did a good job of nullifying Canberra's representative-laden forward pack, and all up the Raiders had just 1,038 run metres in the game.
- A Nathan Cleary chip was regathered by Izack Tago who passed to Sunia Turuva for the first try.
Cleary kicks into gear
- Turuva scored the second too, but this time the build up involved half the Penrith side, with some hot potato footy finding its way to the Fijian winger who then chipped and regathered for a try which doubled the lead after Cleary's second conversion.
- After the Panthers lost Stephen Crichton to the sin bin following a string of infringements, the Raiders took advantage with a try to Elliott Whitehead which reduced the gap to six again.
- Izack Tago and Lindsay Smith combined to save a second Canebrra try five minutes from the break, forcing Jamal Fogarty to spill the ball over the line.
Fogarty can't get it down
- Cleary then kicked a field goal to restore a two-score lead heading into the sheds.
- A quickfire double to Tago followed, with tries inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half which blew the lead out to 23-6.
- Cleary then scored his side's fifth, before the Raiders threatened to fight back after Hudson Young got over for his ninth try in his past 11 games.
- But any hope of a comeback was short lived, as Zac Hosking got over for his second try in as many games, before interchange man Tyrone Peachey marked his first NRL outing of the year with a try.
- Tries to Stephen Crichton and Jaeman Salmon took the Panthers past 50 for the biggest win of the 2023 season so far.
- The Panthers have now won nine of their past 11 games against the Raiders.
- The game as Panthers captain Isaah Yeo's 200th NRL appearance, while Raiders prop Joseph Tapine appeared for the Raiders for the 150th time.
Play of the Game
A thrilling team try in which the ball changed hands seven times before Sunia Turuva did the rest all by himself. For his second try of the game Turuva chipped nicely over the defence before waiting patiently for the right moment to pounce on the bouncing ball.
A spectacular second for Sunia
What they Said
"The second half was unacceptable. I am sure a lot of fans and people out there would like to know exactly what I'm thinking, but it's better if we keep it in-house and work on it. I am disappointed for all our fans and it's going to be a tough week to get through that, because obviously there will be a lot of deserved criticism for all of us. I apologise for that performance." – Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
Raiders: Round 5
"Once we could get into a bit of a flow and keep the ball, the second half just everything went our way. It was nice to get a bit of rhythm there and score some points. It was good to see them have some fun out there." – Panthers coach Ivan Cleary.
Panthers: Round 5
Both sides have an eight-day turnaround ahead of Round 6, with the Panthers at home to the Sea Eagles and the Raiders heading to Suncorp Stadium to face the Broncos.