The Canberra Raiders have been defeated by the Penrith Panthers on a wet and chilly ACT evening, falling 26-6 at GIO Stadium Canberra on Saturday night.
Despite showing promise, Canberra could never quite get a foothold in the match despite a fast start, however the occasion did mark the debut of Raiders young gun Ata Mariota after Ryan Sutton failed his HIA.
With four rounds remaining Canberra still sit firmly in the hunt for a finals position, with the side looking to get back to winning ways next weekend.
After an electric start to the match including a magical run from Albert Hopoate, the Raiders were able to open the scoring in the ninth minute courtesy of Josh Papalii.
The prop forward would break through multiple Penrith defenders close to the line after collecting a perfect ball from Zac Woolford, planting it down under the uprights.
Jamal Fogarty was able to convert from directly in front, handing the Raiders an early 6-0 lead.
The Panthers were able to hit back quickly, after some crafty play from Api Koroisau. The hooker was able to find some space running directly from dummy-half, scoring under the posts in the 11th minute.
Stephen Crichton would add the extra two points, drawing the scores level at 6-all.
Wet conditions would see both sides struggle to hold the ball, with errors plaguing the match as the two teams looked to break the deadlock.
After Hudson Young was judged to have infringed on Chris Smith’s attempt to contest a high ball, Penrith opted to take a penalty conversion. Crichton was successful, giving the Panthers an 8-6 lead in the 20th minute.
Penrith would also be the next to score, after Sean O’Sullivan was able to find Crichton with a short kick in the 25th minute.
Crichton would convert his own try, extending the away sides lead to 14-6.
Despite some positive field position from Penrith, the Panthers were unable to pierce the Raiders defensive line. This period of play would end when James Fisher-Harris was sent to the sin bin in the 31st minute for a high shot on Ryan Sutton.
Following this the Raiders would threaten the Penrith line, including forcing multiple line dropouts. They could unfortunately not capitalise, with both teams heading to the sheds with the score at 14-6.
It was not the ideal start for the Raiders to begin the second half, with Nick Cotric sent to the sin bin on the very first play for a high tackle.
Penrith would utilise the extra man advantage, with Dylan Edwards scoring after some nice ball work down the left edge in the 45th minute.
Crichton would add the extra two points, taking the Panthers lead to 20-6.
The following 15 minutes would see both sides put their opponent under pressure, with the conditions playing neither side a favour. Tensions would begin to flare, as the intensity noticeably lifted.
Half breaks from Hudson Young and Nick Cotric would highlight the Raiders attack during this time, as they struggled to break through a solid Panthers defence.
It would instead be Penrith who would score next, following a full set in the Raiders red zone. Jaeman Salmon would dummy close to the line, crossing for his first of the evening after breaking through the Raiders defence.
Crichton would continue his perfect night with the kicking tee, extending the Panthers lead to 26-6 in the 67th minute.
While the Raiders did show glimpses of attacking promise in the dying minutes, neither side would ultimately score again, as the Panthers would hold on to a 26-6 victory.
The Raiders will now turn their eyes to next Sunday’s match at home against the St George Illawarra Dragons, whilst the Panthers will prepare to host the Melbourne Storm.