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Fulltime score: Round 17 Canberra Raiders 22 v Penrith Panthers 14
The Panthers scored first with an excellent backline movement orchestrated by Preston Campbell, culminating with a try to Paul Franze in the corner after just 4 minutes of play.
The Raiders then hit back with a try just 8 minutes later with some unbelievable skill from Jason Smith, putting in a chip kick from inside his own half which was gathered by Clinton Schifcofske, who then drew the defence and put Simon Woolford under the posts to give the Raiders a 6-4 lead.
Luke Rooney was then awarded a controversial try after it looked as if the Raiders defence were impeded downfield, resulting in a 90 metre run from Preston Campbell which led to the try and gave the panthers the lead 8-6.
But the Raiders hit back just 3 minutes before halftime with a try under the posts to Alan Tongue off a ball from Simon Woolford and took a 14-8 lead into halftime.
Preston Campbell did his best to get his team back into the game with some outstanding plays, and then followed it up with a try just 5 minutes before fulltime and narrowed the gap to just 2 with the Panthers trailing 16-14.
But the Raiders steadied the ship and sealed the deal with a try to Simon Woolford under the posts and secured a much needed win in the nation's capital by 22 points to 14.
Canberra secured a much needed win to keep themselves in finals contention and look a completely different side with Jason Smith on the paddock. The only consolation for the Panthers is that the June 30 anti-tampering deadline has passed and they can now look for a vastly different roster for 2006.
Live commentary: We await the start of this round 17 clash between the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers at a very cold Canberra stadium. It has developed into a very sunny day which may have deceived some of the Canberra faithful as there appears to be a small crowd on deck. The Panthers are playing for pride today after winning just 5 games so far this season, whereas the Raiders are looking to keep in touch with the top 8 with a win here today.
Both teams are as-per-program.
0 min: Kickoff!, match underway at Canberra Stadium.
4 min: TRY-Panthers Paul Franze scores out wide after a brilliant backline movement from the Panthers. Conversion unsuccessful from Preston Campbell. Panthers 4-0
10 min: Panthers on the attack again but a shocking pass from Rhys Wesser goes astray and flies over the touchline.
12 min: TRY-Raiders Try under the posts from Simon Woolford after an outstanding chip over the top from Jason Smith went straight into the hands of Clinton Schifcofske, he then drew the defence and put Woolford under the posts. Conversion successful from Clinton Schifcofske. Raiders 6-4.
19 min: TRY-Panthers Controversial try awarded to Luke Rooney in the corner after what looked to be an obstruction down field. This one will be spoken about in detail during the week. Conversion unsuccessful from Preston Campbell. Panthers 8-6.
26 min: NO TRY The Panthers constructed another promising backline movement but Paul Franze lost the ball over the line, David Howell is struggling to contain Franze who appears to be making light work of the Canberra centre every time he touches the ball.
28 min: PENALTY GOAL-Raiders The Raiders opting for the 2 points from close range, kick successful from Clinton Schifcofske. 8-all
34 min: Both sides seem to have shut up shop before halftime, just playing a possession game and getting to their kick.
37 min: TRY-Raiders Bad mistake by Luke Rooney off a Jason Smith Kick. The Raiders then fed the scrum and Simon Woolford put Alan Tongue under the posts for the try. Conversion successful from Clinton Schifcofske. Raiders 14-8
HALF TIME-Great first half with both sides having their chances. Any suggestions that this game was going to be the most boring of the weekend have been put to rest so far. Jason Smith has been the catalyst of this Canberra performance again today along with Simon Woolford. Preston Campbell, Frank Pritchard and Paul Franze have all created opportunities for the Panthers.
Second half underway at Canberra Stadium.
45 min: High drama with Schifcofske kicking the ball off the ground and then Croker regathering the ball, he then put a kick down field and Woolford led the chase for the ball, and then Wesser blatantly tackled Woolford without the ball. It would have been 10 minutes in the bin but Croker was judged to have been offside by the video referee, lucky break for Penrith.
48 min: PENALTY GOAL-Raiders Schifcofske kicks a penalty goal from 30 metres out on a slight angle after another penalty was given away by Rhys Wesser who appears to be frustrated. Raiders 16-8
53 min: Panthers look very flat in attack and they have just blown another chance, they seem to be affected by Rhys wesser's sudden loss of form and frustration.
58 min: Outstanding effort from Preston Campbell to return the ball to play after what looked to be a certain line drop-out. He is keeping the Panthers in this game after a great trysaving tackle a couple of minutes ago.
64 min: The Panthers are looking very tired and need something special from a Preston Campbell or a Rhys Wesser. Still 16-8 in favour of the Raiders.
72 min: Both teams now looking very tired. The Raiders look as though they'll win this one now with nothing going for the Panthers in attack.
75 min: TRY-Panthers A piece of individual brilliance from Preston Campbell to score for the Panthers after weaving in and out of defenders off an outstanding offload from Frank Puletua. Conversion successful from Preston Campbell. Raiders 16-14
79 min: TRY-Raiders Simon Woolford burrows under the defence to score under the posts and wrap the game up for Canberra. Conversion successful from Clinton Schifcofske. Raiders 22-14
FULL TIME: Canberra have kept their finals hopes alive with a gritty 22-14 win. They now move into equal 8th position on 20 points. The Panthers' season would have been gone even if they had won today's game, which just illustrates what a poor season they have had in 2005. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Woolford (Raiders) 2 - J Smith (Raiders) 1 - P Campbell (Panthers) -----------------------------------------