The Raiders NYC team were unable to replicate their winning heroics over the Panthers from round one, succumbing to a classy and powerful Panthers outfit in a convincing loss.
Already facing a growing injury crisis, the Raiders were hit by more misfortune just before kick-off. A back complaint for Thomas Cronan saw him replaced late by Harry Van Dartel. Robert Vai and Logan Spaander debuted in Raiders colours for the match.
It was ominous signs early for the Raiders, with the Panthers defence locking the Raiders deep in their own half. Superb play by Jack Hickson and Harry Van Dartel saw the Raiders finally march up the field, before a repeat set of six gave them an attacking set 10 metres from the line.
Jesse Martin took advantage of the supreme field position to dart out of dummy half to score. Bailey Hartwig, taking over kicking duties from the injured Zac Woolford, converted the try to give the Raiders an early 6-0 lead.
The reigning premiers and current ladder leaders were always going to try and hit back straight away. Dummy half Reed Izzard showed he can do exactly what his opposite number Martin can do, fooling the Raiders defence to score an easy try under the posts. Nathan Cleary easily converted from infront of the posts.
The Panthers juggernaut continued to fire, with tries coming at a regular rate. First it was Tyrone May, then Cleary, before big prop Cowen Epere proved to be too powerful for the Raiders defence to handle.
Ratu Tuisese heaped further pain on the Raiders by going almost 80 metres untouched to score under the posts. Braidon Burns and Corey Waddell added two more tries, before a Cleary 40-20 gave the Panthers another late try through Tuisese.
It was an improved performance by the Raiders in the first ten minutes of the second half, before the Panthers gained the upper hand and the tries began to roll in again.
William Samuel scored the second of the Raiders tries in the second half, however the Panthers proved why they are the premiership favourites in a dominant 74-10 victory.
With almost a two week break until their next game against the St George Dragons, Brett White’s boys will have plenty of work to do in training to get their season back on track after four straight losses.
Panthers 74 (Izzard, May, Epere, Tuisese 2, Cleary 2, Burns, Waddell, Jennings, Ennis, Edwards, Hetherington. Cleary 11/13) defeated the Raiders 10 (Martin, Samuel Hartwig 1/2)