The Canberra Raiders are out of the Harold Matthews Cup following a 30-6 elimination final loss to the Penrith Panthers.
The Raiders started the game well, putting on the first try and having a dominant share of the football in the early exchanges. But Penrith came back into the game after an enforced error, scoring two tries before halftime to take an 8-6 lead to the break.
Despite some positive attacking play early in the second half, back-to-back penalties handed the Panthers another try scoring opportunity, which they duly took.
After that, it was all Panthers as the Raiders boys fought hard to the final whistle, but ultimately saw their season end in the six-tries-to-one loss.
“Penrith played really well in hot conditions, and made very few errors,” coach Adam Kyle said.
“We tried very hard to keep in the contest after half time, but fatigue and pressure started to affect our completions.”
Despite the defeat, Kyle was full of praise for his young chargers.
“I have been so impressed with our resilience this year and we will take some great lessons out of this result,” he said.
“This experience playing semi-final football will really give these players a great understanding of what it takes to play big games versus big sides.
“Semi final football is a different experience to club footy, and I know we will have learnt a lot from this game.
“It has been a real pleasure coaching this great group of young men, and I can’t wait to see how they progress in the coming years for the Canberra Raiders.”
Penrith 30 (S Blore 2, Z Cini, M Faauila, T Piukana, M Trindell tries; D White 3 goals) def Canberra 6 (H Smith-Shields try; K Jensen goal)