Panthers keep finals hopes alive as Raiders fade

Round 18
Penrith Panthers 24 v Canberra Raiders 12
at CUA Stadium, Pemrith
Referees: Tony Archer

Match Summary:

The Penrith Panthers have scored an impressive 24-6 victory over a lacklustre Canberra Raiders side at CUA Stadium this evening.

The Panthers never at any stage looked in danger of losing the match as the Raiders never got out of first gear, again allowing themselves to be totally dominated in the first half.

Preston Campbell and Michael Gordon were the Panthers best while for the Raiders, no player stood out in such a disappointing display. Michael Gordon bagged a personal tally of 14 points through three goals and two tries.

After the Raiders upset loss to the Eels last week, they had the chance to right a few wrongs and get their top eight aspirations back on track but the loss has made it extremely difficult for the Raiders to build any type of momentum in the stretch to the finals with such ordinary form against teams they were expected to defeat.

For the Panthers, they are back in the hunt and tonight they did it without the captain Tony Puletua who was ruled out through injury earlier today. For the Raiders, start planning for Mad Monday, because you are kidding yourselves if you think you are finals material based on the efforts in the past two weeks.

Penrith Panthers: 24
Tries: Preston Campbell, Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon(2)
Goals: Preston Campbell 1/2, Michael Gordon 3/3
Canberra Raiders: 12
Tries: Phillip Graham, Clinton Schifcofske
Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 2/2

By the Clock:
1 min: NEWS We are underway at CUA Stadium for the vital clash between the Raiders and the Panthers.

5 min: NEWS No score yet but the play has been going all the Panthers way with the Raiders off to their usual slow start.

12 min: NEWS Still no score and the Raiders are starting to warm to the occasion nicely.

20 min: NEWS Midway through the first half and there is still no score between the Panthers and the Raiders. The Panthers have had the better of possession and are making more metres with the ball in hand but the Raiders line is yet to yield any points.

22 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
The Panthers have opened the scoring through Rhys Wesser and Preston Campbell converts to give the Panthers a six point lead.
Panthers 6-0

30 min: NEWS Still no change to the score with both sides playing a simple, no frills style of game tonight.

40 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
A crucial try to the Panthers right on the stroke of half time has really hurt an ordinary Canberra Raiders side who now have it all in front of them in the second half. Conversion unsuccessful.
Panthers 10-0

41 min: NEWS We are underway in the second half.

50 min: NEWS Panthers well on top and are dominating possession and the advantage line extremely well. Canberra are being overrun and at the moment look helpless to stop it.

57 min: TRY Canberra Raiders
The Raiders are on the board after 57 minutes through Phil Graham. Schifcofske converts to get the Raiders within four points.
Panthers 10-6

59 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
The Panthers hit straight back and have gone a long way to sealing the vital two points tonight. Canberra are self destructing and look long odds to pull this one out of the fire.
Panthers 16-6

70 min: PENALTY GOAL Penrith Panthers
Michael Gordon makes it virtually impossible for the Raiders to mount any comeback by extending the Panthers lead to two converted tries with under ten minutes remaining.
Panthers 18-6

76 min: TRY Penrith Panthers
The Panthers put the icing on the cake with an impressive win against a terrible Canberra Raiders side who have pretty much just seen their top eight chances fly right out the window.
Panthers 24-6

80 min: TRY Canberra Raiders
The Raiders score a consolation try to Clinton Schifcofske but don't be fooled by the scoreline, the Panthers were by far the better team. Conversion successful.
Panthers 24-12
----------------------------------------- players of the match:
3 - Michael Gordon
2 - Preston Campbell
1 - Joel Clinton