Canberra have blown Penrith away in the second half to notch a strong 30-18 victory in the run to the finals, in front of over 15,000 fans at Panthers Stadium.
The Panthers dominated possession and field position at the start of the game, which they turned to points straight away. Mitch Kenny sent the ball right to Nathan Cleary, who linked with Dylan Edwards, who drew the winger and then passed to Brian To'o who dived over for a try in the right corner. Cleary failed to convert.
Canberra then hit back just over 10 minutes later when Josh Hodgson dished a crash ball to the barnstorming Josh Papalii, who crashed over to the left of the posts. Jarrod Croker converted.
In the 22nd minute Dean Whare was sin binned after taking out Croker while he was chasing a kick. The Raiders scored several seconds after he left the field, after they sent the ball left to Elliott Whitehead, who ran straight and hard and bulldozed his way over the line for a try. Croker again converted.
Right on the stroke of halftime, Cleary kicked a penalty goal to reduce the deficit to 6 for the home side.
Just five minutes after play resumed, Canberra scored a great team try. Siliva Havili got away an offload, 5 metres shy of halfway. The ball was sent quickly to the right and onto Jordan Rapana, who made a good run before sending Michael Oldfield for a run down the touchline, before he kicked back infield, where Aidan Sezer cleaned up the ball and scored with no one around him. Croker converted.
The Panthers then replied immediately with a great team try of their own. James Maloney chipped over the top, James Fisher-Harris regathered thanks to a perfect bounce and quickly passed to Moses Leota on his right and the big man raced away to score. Cleary converted from right in front.
A mistake by Josh Mansour just 3 minutes later when going up to defuse a bomb, saw him lose the ball backwards, then he fell on it, which squirted the ball back into the Panthers in-goal. Brent Naden tried to bat the ball dead, but Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad got his hand on the ball to score a try. Croker failed to convert from out wide on the right side.
Five minutes later and the Raiders were in again, this time thanks to a powerful try by Jordan Rapana in the right corner. Croker again failed to convert.
With ten minutes remaining in the game, Penrith scored when James Tamou ran onto a crash ball close to the line and crashed over for a try under the posts. Cleary converted to reduce the margin to 8.
However the fightback was thwarted when a Maloney short drop out saw two Panthers players collide while trying to catch the ball. John Bateman cleaned up the loose ball, spun out of a tackle and ran 15 metres to score in the right corner. Croker failed to convert, but the result was now a foregone conclusion.