ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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Fulltime score: Round 9 Penrith Panthers 18 v Canberra Raiders 26
The Raiders were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try in the first minute as Brett Howland tackled Jason Croker without the ball in the in-goal area. But even with Howland in the sin-bin, it was all Penrith in the first twenty minutes as they raced to an 18-0 lead.
Canberra fought back hard to claim two tries ? one a spectacular effort from Phillip Graham, taking an intercept and chipping past Rhys Wesser to score ? to trail by only 8 points at the break.
The second half saw a superb effort from the Green Machine to keep the Panthers scoreless while their backs prospered from some great effort up front. The Raiders did not manage to take the lead until the 69th minute, but once they were there they never looked like losing.
The Panthers seemed a little shell-shocked after their great start, and could well find themselves out of the Top 8 depending on other weekend results.
Live commentary: Welcome to Penrith Stadium for tonights clash! The Raiders welcome back Jason Smith & Simon Woolford from suspensions, while Ian Hindmarsh will start and Kris Kahler will come from the bench. For the Panthers, Preston Campbell, Luke Lewis & Joe Galuvao are out. Ben Rogers, Brett Howland & David McLean are the replacements.
0 min: Penrith kick-off and we're underway!
1 min: SIN BIN - Brett Howland sin-binned for tackling Jason Croker without the ball over the try-line. Croker was certain to score after Jason Smith opened up the defence with a chip over the top.
5 min: Rhys Wesser takes a shot at a penalty goal, but makes a complete hash of it.
Video ref checking a possible Panthers try ...
7 min: TRY - Panthers Ben Rogers opens the scoring for the Panthers by cleaning up an in-goal fumble from Ben Pomeroy who was leaping for a Craig Gower bomb. Wesser's conversion attempt is much better, but still misses. Panthers 4 Raiders 0
12 min: TRY - Panthers Trent Waterhouse crashes over as the Panthers enjoy repeat sets from penalties. Wesser's third kick is the closest yet - but it still misses. Panthers 8 Raiders 0
14 min: Penalties currenty running 4-1 in the Panthers favour.
15 min: NO TRY - Craig Gower is held up over the line as the Panthers hot run of attack continues.
16 min: TRY - Panthers Brett Howland redeems himself with a touchdown after a great chip out wide from Ben Rogers. Rhys Wesser misses another conversion attempt from the touchline. Panthers 12 Raiders 0
19 min: TRY - Panthers Rhys Wesser dots down under the posts, beating several attempted tackles on the way. Trent Waterhouse is given the kicking duties, and adds the extras. Panthers 18 Raiders 0
22 min: Possession is currently 80/20 in the Panthers favour, and Penrith have a 100% completion rate.
26 min: The Raiders are finally getting their hands on the ball, but are looking very lethargic in attack.
31 min: Penrith give up consecutive penalties to give the Raiders their best shot at points so far.
32 min: TRY - Raiders Alan Tongue gets the Raiders on the board, latching on to a great off-load from Jason Smith close to the line. Matt Gafa is successful with the conversion. Panthers 18 Raiders 6
36 min: TRY - Raiders Phillip Graham takes a great intercept and chips infield past Rhys Wesser to score. Beautiful stuff! Matt Gafa misses with his kick. Panthers 18 Raiders 10
HALF TIME: Panthers 18 Raiders 10 Penrith started at a million miles an hour, but the Raiders have gradually clawed their way back into the match and finished the half looking like the stronger team.
The second half is underway ...
45 min: Both teams looking very evenly matched now, and some great defensive hits being made by both sides.
Video ref checking a possible Panthers try ...
50 min: NO TRY - but the Panthers have forced a repeat set from a goal-line drop out.
57 min: TRY - Raiders Michael Robertson scores in the corner as the Raiders show some attacking sparkle with some good breaks through the Panthers defence. Matt Gafa's kick is waived away. Panthers 18 Raiders 14
62 min: Possession - Raiders 52%, Panthers 48%
63 min: David Howell has made a great try-saving tackle on Paul Franze when the Panthers looked certain to score.
67 min: The Raiders are showing some great defence to keep the Panthers from scoring. Penrith seem to be lacking their first half spark.
69 min: TRY - Raiders Marshall Chalk scores under the posts following some great ad-lib play from the Raiders. Matt Gafa adds the extras. Panthers 18 Raiders 20
73 min: Both sides have really lifted their intensity, and we're in for a great finish to this match.
74 min: Ben Rogers (Panthers) is placed on report for a high shot.
75 min: TRY - Raiders David Howell scores from a Matt Adamson off-load. Matt Gafa kicks the conversion to give the Raiders a crucial 8 point lead. Panthers 18 Raiders 26
78 min: Matt Gafa misses with a penalty shot, but he has eaten up plenty of time.
FULL TIME: Panthers 18 Raiders 26 Canberra have produced the 8th-best comeback in NRL history for a well-deserved victory in front of a parochial Panthers crowd.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Alan Tongue (Raiders) 2 - Trent Waterhouse (Panthers) 1 - Jason Smith (Raiders) -----------------------------------------