In two extremely tightly fought encounters, the junior Raiders registered mixed results in their first matches of the 2015 season.
Harold Matthews (Under 16’s)
Penrith Panthers 18 defeated Canberra Raiders 10 at Pepper Stadium, Penrith.
The Canberra Raiders were narrowly defeated 18 points to 10 in their first match of the season by a sizeable Penrith Panthers outfit.
Penrith, last year’s Grand Finalists, raced out to a 12-0 lead at half-time before Canberra fought back with tries to Jonathan Fangaiuiha and Alifeleti Ngahe to trail by just two points midway through the second half.
Alas, in front of their home fans, the Panthers rallied and scored a further converted try to close the match out 18-10.
The Panthers are consistently among the top performing clubs in the junior representative competitions and Coach Adam Kyle was extremely proud of his troops for pushing them right to their limits in just their first match for the year.
“We couldn’t have been prouder of the boys first up effort,” Kyle said. “I know a lot of the boys were nervous in the first half and probably didn’t display their best in the first 30 minutes, but after halftime we really gave them a shake.
“At 12-10 we had our chances to get over the line, but again we just were not as polished as we needed to be.
“It was a great effort to compete with Penrith they are a really good side who ended up in last year’s Grand Final. They were very composed in good ball and punished us for not completing at key moments in the game.
“We knew they would be a very well drilled side and we wanted to make sure everything we did was about competing and making sure we played till the very end.”
The Raiders didn’t have the most ideal preparation with speedy fullback Sebastian Kris absent from the entire week of training as he was selected in the NSW Indigenous Under 16’s side.
Kris is the only player in the squad to have played in the Harold Matthews from the previous side however Kyle made no excuses for the loss, instead focusing on the features of play that need to be improved for next week’s match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Seiffert Oval.
“We’re not making any excuses, we’ll just focus on improving our performance and on our key performance indicators. It’s all a learning game for these boys and we will take some lessons out of this and work on them for Round 2.”
The Raiders take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs next week at Seiffert Oval.
Penrith Panthers 18 (Thomas Lofts, Alexander Myles, Jai Ferguson tries; Lofts 3 goals) def. Canberra Raiders 10 (Jonathan Fangaiuiha, Alifeleti Ngahe tries; Daniel Desmet goal)
SG Ball (Under 18’s)
Canberra Raiders 20 defeated Penrith Panthers 16 at Pepper Stadium, Penrith.
The Canberra Raiders SG Ball side overcame a 10-6 deficit at halftime to overpower the Penrith Panthers at home in their first official match of 2015.
Penrith went within an inch of being crowned the 2014 SG Ball premiers, going down by four points to the Sydney Roosters.
With many of the 2014 side ever-present in the 2015 line-up, the Panthers are tipped to reach similar heights this year.
One of those players is star five-eighth Nathan Cleary, son of NRL Coach Ivan, and Canberra did tremendously well in defence to nullify his attacking threat and also halt the momentum of Penrith’s monstrous forwards.
“I think an area that we were good in was our attitude to defence,” Coach Dean Souter said. “Our line speed was a key against their big pack.”
Souter was proud of his troops in their first outing for the year however he singled out hard working forwards Ryan Griffin and Jake Hall, and centre Nick Cotric who registered a brace of tries.
Despite the good effort, Souter was adamant that there is plenty of improvement left in the team.
“We were happy to come away with the two points, it was a tough game and the team worked hard. The work we have done in the pre-season was a help but it's the work of guys in the system over a much longer period than just this pre-season that makes a difference.
“In particular, there were some really good efforts from Nick Cotric, Ryan Griffin and Jake Hall. They really made a difference.
“At this time of the year everything needs improving. All teams will be looking to improve after Round 1. Next week against the Rabbitohs we have to be much better, I'm sure we can keep improving.”
Canberra Raiders 20 (Nick Cotric 2, Lachlan Cooper tries; Bailey Hartwig 4 goals) def. Penrith Panthers 16 (Carl Winterstein, Liam Martin, Raymond Maroun tries; Nathan Cleary 2 goals)