ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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Penrith started well with a mountain of first half possession and led 14-0 at the break but Canberra scored three quick tries to take the lead in the second half.
Penrith managed to hang in there and came away with a vital win that sees them sitting in the top four while the Raiders must regroup for their match against the Warriors in Wellington next Friday and on current form, will be hard pressed to topple the New Zealanders.
Matt Elliott must have grave concerns over the ability of some of his senior players to put up their hands and do the dirty work when the going gets tough with some players recording very average performances tonight. Canberra also gave away two penalties while in possession, both being very contentious calls but in the end, the Panthers were deserved victors and will now stamp themselves as a genuine premiership threat with Canberra, St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters as some of their prized scalps.
Scorers: RAIDERS 18 Tries: Smith, Lolesi, Graham Goals: Schifcofske 3/3 PANTHERS 26 Tries: Whatuira x 2, Rodney, Rooney Goals: Campbell 5/5
League Unlimited player of the year points: 3 - P Campbell (Panthers) 2 - P Whatuira (Panthers) 1 - L Priddis (Panthers)
By the clock:
6th min: PENALTY GOAL - Panthers. Campbell slots a penalty from right in front to open the Panthers account. Panthers 2-0.
18th min: Still no change in the score with the Panthers having the lion's share of possession in the early stages.
22nd min: The Panthers have lost both Ben Ross and Joe Gulavao to injury. Not sure at this stage if either player will return.
30th min: Still no change in the scores but the Panthers are looking far stronger than the Raiders at the moment.
32nd min: TRY - Panthers. The Raiders come with up a mistake from Brad Drew and give the Panthers good field position and they capitalise through a try to Paul Whatuira. Conversion successful. Panthers 8-0.
40th min: TRY - Panthers. Brad Drew again gives the Panthers six points with continued poor options. Canberra have been terrible tonight. Shane Rodney outpaces Luke Davico to score in the corner. Conversion successful. Panthers 14-0.
HALF TIME: It's all one-way traffic at the moment with the Raiders picking up where they left off last week. They have no direction from Brad Drew, who looks simply uninterested and has been replaced by coach Matthew Elliott. Penrith have had few chances but have capitalised and made the Raiders pay. If the Raiders don't wake up, this could be a bloodbath.
47th min: TRY - Raiders. Tyran Smith scores underneath the posts as the Raiders start to show signs of life. Conversion successful. Panthers 14-6.
51st min: TRY - Raiders. Mark McLinden makes a great break and sends Jamaal Lolesi in under the posts. Conversion successful. Panthers 14-12.
63rd min: TRY - Raiders. Phil Graham scores an absolutely fantastic try to outrun Rhys Wesser to the line. Conversion successful. Raiders 18-14.
69th min: TRY - Panthers. Luke Rooney races down the touchline to beat Mark McLinden and Clinton Schifcofske to score out wide. Conversion successful. Panthers 20-18.
78th min: TRY - Panthers. Whatuira scores in the corner to seal the match and extend their winning streak to five matches while the Raiders record their second successive loss and questions will be asked about their title chances after two disappointing efforts. Conversion successful. Panthers 26-18.
FULL TIME: The Panthers extend their winning streak to five matches with a good win over a very poor Raiders outfit. With two losses on the trot for the Raiders, changes have to be made. Some players are playing on reputation and do not deserve their spot in the side.