Canberra's strong early-season form continued as they registered a comfortable 18 point victory over a Panthers side whose season is starting to slip away. The Raiders finished 30-12 winners in the NSW Riverina city of Wagga Wagga.
The Raiders opened the scoring in the 9th minute when Sam Williams put in a nice grubber on the right side for Michael Oldfield, who ran between two defenders, regathered and scored a good try. Jarrod Croker converted.
The game had plenty of niggle and the occasional flare up. It was also dominated by cheap turnovers and ill-discipline, mostly by Penrith. However it was after back-to-back penalties by the Raiders on their own line in the 20th minute resulted in fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad being sin-binned.
Isaah Yeo went down in a heavy tackle and reportedly dislocated his shoulder.
In the 26th minute Canberra crossed again after they kept the ball alive, with some good offloads by their big men on the left side before Jack Wighton got the ball, stepped and got himself over the line for a good try. Croker converted again.
A minute later Josh Bateman came off after a head clash and was reported as having fractured his eye socket.
After a James Maloney drop out went out on the full five minutes before half time, Croker soon kicked a penalty goal to extended the Raiders' lead to 14.
Penrith scored a lucky try in the 49th minute after they put in a kick which failed to get past the Raiders defence, but was deflected back out to the left side where Maloney cleaned it up and passed to halfback Nathan Cleary who scored. He then converted his own try.
Shortly after Viliame Kikau went down after his leg got caught under a tackle by Elliott Whitehead. He was helped off the field.
After Maloney was penalised for a sort-of spear tackle, the Raiders surged up-field. Nicoll-Klokstad dummied left from dummy half and dived over for a good try. Croker again added the extras, and kicked another penalty goal shortly after.
The game was put beyond doubt, or so it seemed, in the 70th minute when Canberra made a break through the middle thanks to a great offload by Nicoll-Klokstad to Croker. Hudson Young then barged his way through some sloppy goal-line defence on the next play to score on the left side. Croker converted.
From the restart, Penrith retained possession after the ball was batted back, where Moses Leota cleaned up the loose ball and passed to James Tamou who ran to the right, straightened, broke through a tackle and then scored out wide for a strong solo try. Maloney converted.
Within a minute, Penrith looked to have scored again, but it was disallowed after a Panthers player was found to be offside.
The game came to a close with a Panthers drop out failing to travel 10 metres and Croker added another goal to bring up the 30 for Canberra.
Next weekend's Magic Round sees Penrith face local rivals Wests Tigers in Brisbane on Friday night, while the Raiders have a huge clash with the Roosters on the Sunday.