The top of the table Penrith Panthers have thrashed the Raiders NYC team 64-8 in a disappointing afteroon at Pepper Stadium.
The match shaped as the match of the round in the Holden Cup with the fourth placed Raiders in fine form and gunnig for their fourth straight victory. Unfortunately, a dismal first half showing by the Green Machine paved the way for one of the most disappointing results for the year for Coach Mick Mantelli's men.
Canberra started the match poorly with Penrith scoring three unanswered tries within the first 10 minutes. They did show some promise in the second half however they were never able to take advantage of the field position they were able to get into.
Penrith got the scoring off quickly crossing in just the 2nd minute of the game when blockbusting front-rower Stanton Albert crossed under the posts. The conversion was successful from Nathan Cleary for a 6-0 lead to the Panthers.
The Panthers made it three tries within the first 10 minutes with halfback Nathan Cleary going over in the 6th minute and fullback Jarome Luai in the 10th. Cleary converted both tries for an 18-0 lead.
The scoreboard pressure continued to mount when the Panthers had a fourth answered try in the 13th minute. After a 30 metre run down the sideline, winger Fuimanu Enese was able to score in the corner despite several desperate attempts from the Raiders. Cleary missed the conversion for the score line to remain at 22-0.
After some promising play from the Raiders came to nothing, the Panthers continued to build their first half lead scoring another two tries before half-time. The first came after another dropped kick from the Raiders was pounced upon by Kade Ellis and the second came after hooker Soni Luke was able to break several tackles to score next to the posts. Both conversions were successful from Cleary to give the Panthers a 34-0 lead at half-time.
After a half-time spray by Mantelli, the Raiders were able to strike first in the second half. The try came after an outstanding acrobatic effort by Thomas Cronan saw the winger touch down in the corner after a quick spread found him in space. The conversion was missed by Tre Williams to leave the score at 34-4.
The Panthers were able to restore their lead moments later when front-rower Moses Leota scored after making several strong tackle busts to score next to the posts. The conversion from Cleary was successful to extend Penrith's lead to 36 points.
Penrith followed this up with another two tries in quick succession through back-rower Corey Naera-Harawira and centre Jake Nelson to score in the corner from the resulting set. Cleary continued to kick well, converting each try to give the Panthers a 48 point lead.
The Raiders were able to score their second try in the 68th minute when centre Cameron Booth was able to score after a mistake at the back from the Panthers' winger. The conversion from Woolford was unsuccessful leaving the scoreboard at 52-8.
After a lenghly delay while Cleveland McGhie was taken from the field on a stretcher, the Enese ran 70 metres to score under the posts for his second try of the afternoon. Cleary was able convert for a 58-8 lead to the Panthers.
The Panthers were able to score another try on full-time through Paea Pau who broke through some flimsy Raiders defence to score from close range. Cleary once again converted to ensure that Penrith finished the game with a winning margin of 64-8.
Cleary outclassed by a dominant Panthers outfit, hooker Zac Woolford said that the side now knows the level that it needs to get to.
"It was an incredibly disapointing effort from us today," Woolford said candidly. "Things were going well for us with three wins on the trot but that's all come undone now. We need to work hard at training because the Panthers' just showed us the standard that we need to get to today.
"We've got a big match against the Cowboys next week so we have to turn this result around quickly because they're coming second on the ladder behind the Panthers!"
Penrith Panthers 64 (Enese 2, Albert, Cleary, Luai, Ellis, Luke, Leota, Naera-Harawira, Nelson, Pau Tries; Cleary 10/11 Goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 8 (Cronan, Booth Tries; T.Williams 0/1, Woolford 0/1 Goals)