The Canberra Raiders have been defeated by the Penrith panthers 12-6, in a wet and dour struggle at Sportingbet Stadium.
The Raiders had three changes before kick-off, with Bill Tupou (Hamstring) and Jarrad Kennedy and Shannon Boyd (Illness) all missing the match.
Kyle O'Donnell made his Raiders debut from the bench, while Sami Sauiluma and Jake Foster played their first NRL matches of 2014.
In wet and slippery conditions the Raiders couldn’t crack the defence of the Panthers late in the game when they had some chances on their line, with the Mountain Men holding on for the six point win.
The Raiders suffered an early blow when Joel Edwards was knocked out attempting a tackle and he was taken from the field on the stretcher as a precaution. He’ll be checked this week to see the extent of the injury, although early reports are he suffered concussion with no serious injury.
The Panthers scored first through Dallin Watene-Zelezniak after the Panthers made the most of the up and in defence to score in the corner. Matt Moylan missed the conversion and the Panthers led 4-0.
The rain then started to tumble down in Penrith with both teams making errors as they looked to gain good field position, with neither team able to take advantage of some good scoring opportunities.
It was the Panthers though who eventually capitalised as they scored on the stroke of halftime, when Josh Mansour found himself on the end of a sharp cut out pass from Jamie Soward. Moylan missed the conversion, but the Panthers took an 8-0 lead into the break.
Both teams looked at controlling the ball to start the second half with a concerted effort on getting field position and the game turned into a grinding contest as both teams looked for an upper hand.
The Raiders were the first to chance their arm as they ran a nice set play and they were rewarded when Paul Vaughan was on the end of a nice ball from Anthony Milford. Jarrod Croker converted and it was a two point game at 8-6.
Canberra continued to play some nicely controlled football and had some nice field position, but an error from David Shillington gave the panthers a chance and they capitalised with Watene-Zelezniak scoring his second try from a nice Peter Wallace cross-kick. Moylan again missed the goal and it was 12-6 with 10 minutes left.
A frantic final few minuted saw the Raiders have three sets on the Panthers line with a chance to level the game, but the Panthers defence held firm and they held on for the 12-6 win.
The Raiders return home to Canberra Stadium next Saturday to play the Newcastle Knights.