A strong second half performance by the Penrith Panthers was too much for the Raiders, going down 36-6 at BlueBet Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In perfect conditions at the foot of the mountains, the Raiders were outclassed by Panthers letting in 22-unanswered-points in their ANZAC round clash.
Joe Tapine was a shining light for the green-machine in their loss with 73 metres, 38 tackles, six tackle breaks and a try.
Penrith were given early territory to attack after being awarded three straight penalties in the opening ten minutes of the game. The Raiders showed great resilience holding the home side out and eventually forcing a mistake from Panthers’ second rower Viliame Kikau.
A failed intercept attempt by Xavier Savage on the last tackle of the set gave Penrith the opening four pointer of the afternoon in the 13th minute, with the Panthers shifting to the right to find centre Stephen Crichton to go over untouched. Nathan Cleary converted from ten metres in from the touchline to make it 6-0.
The restart by Corey Harawira-Neira was perfect, bouncing in the in-goal and going dead to force a goal-line dropout. The Raiders took no time to capitalise on the amazing field position with Joe Tapine crashing over in the 17th minute to level things up after the conversion.
The game tightened up through the middle of the first half with both sides having limited scoring chances. But a short ball from Penrith debutant Soni Luke to Isaah Yeo gave the Panthers a six-point lead with eight minutes to go until halftime.
A controversial Captain’s Challenge on the stroke of halftime from Penrith deemed that Corey Horsburgh had played at the ball in the ruck and the Panthers were awarded a penalty five metres out. They opted to take the penalty goal and extend their lead to 14-6 going into the break.
The Raiders had an early scare to start the second half with Panthers winger Taylan May’s try going upstairs to be reviewed by the Bunker. Luckily for the Raiders there was a knock on in the aerial contest that occurred beforehand, saving Canberra from being behind by double digits.
In a move to bring some fresh legs onto the field, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart brought English born forward Harry Rushton on to make his NRL debut in the 50th minute.
The Panthers’ defence went up a notch though in the opening 15 minutes of the half contributing to a majority of the game being played within the Raiders’ half of the field. A strong run by Stephen Crichton within Canberra’s 20-metres led to a try in the 55th minute and Crichton’s second try of the game.
Only three minutes later, a crafty grubber from Cleary found Crichton once again but the on field decision from referee Grant Atkins was no try. After the Bunker checked the play, Matt Timoko was seen to have impeded Crichton’s chances of getting to the ball and Crichton was awarded a penalty try and his third of the match.
Penrith finished the game off with all the momentum through late tries to Taylan May in the 67th minute and Viliame Kikau in the 72nd. This point scoring run extended the Panthers lead to 36-6 and sealed the deal to keep them undefeated in the 2022 season after seven rounds.
Canberra will be looking to bounce back and end their four game losing streak when they face the New Zealand Warriors next weekend at Moreton Daily Stadium.