Full Time
6:00pm Fri March 31, 2023
Round 5 - GIO Stadium Canberra, Bruce / Ngunnawal - Crowd: 15334

Round 5: Raiders v Panthers preview

Defending Premiers Penrith travel to Canberra looking to bounce back.

The Canberra Raiders will host the Penrith Panthers on Friday evening, with both teams coming off shock previous round losses.

Ricky's Raiders are facing an uphill battle if they want to play finals this season. Sitting in 16th currently and with just one win against their name, they need to get their season back on track, and they need to do it quickly. Last week they faced the Knights away in front of over 15,000 fans and were ambushed, going down 24-14 at the final siren.

Jack Wighton got himself in hot water for a high shot on Jackson Hastings, and he copped a two game suspension. Reports that Wighton has placed himself on the market have been circulating, with Parramatta reportedly looking for his signature.

With no Wighton this week, it's Matt Frawley and Jamal Fogarty who pair up in the halves for the Green Machine. James Schiller misses out with experienced winger Jordan Rapana making his return from suspension.

The Penrith Panthers have not had the breezy season start that some may have expected from the back-to-back premiers. With one win from three games, they find themselves in 7th with some help from the bye.

Both of their losses have been by just one point, so Panthers fans will be hoping to not have their hearts broken at the death yet again this Friday.

Despite the loss at Parramatta last weekend, it was their star halfback's clutch two point field goal to level the game in the last play of regular time which caught all the headlines.

But it wasn't to be for the Panthers, going down 17-16 early into golden point. It was a hard fought battle for both clubs, with the sides tied at two tries a piece in the grand final rematch.

Luke Garner won't take to the field citing injury, so Lindsay Smith will get his opportunity off the bench. Soni Luke is out through concussion protocols, with experienced utility Tyrone Peachey earning a bench spot. Still no sign of the injured Liam Martin.

Expect a passionate match-up, but in the end it's going to be a very tough ask for Canberra.

Panthers have won the past four meetings between these two clubs.

Last meeting: Round 21 2022 - Raiders 6 Panthers 26

Who to watch: Sebastian Kris will start his 5th game at fullback in 2023 this weekend. Following the fractured jaw of young star Xavier Savage, and the off-season release of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to the Warriors, Kris was more or less thrown into the number one jersey. The New Zealand
international centre carries a lot of responsibility at fullback, and he needs to keep learning and adapting week by week as Savage works his way towards a return.

Sunia Turuva is well on his way to nailing down a spot in the Panthers starting 17. This weekend will mark his fourth straight appearance on the wing for Penrith, and with just six NRL games to his name Turuva still has plenty of experience to gain. After a successful World Cup campaign with Fiji in the off-season, expect Turuva to keep improving over the coming seasons, and possibly to grab his first try of the season this Friday.

Favourite: The Penrith Panthers are the strong favourites to get the victory away from home.

My tip: The Panthers will be looking to prove a point after their dramatic loss to Parramatta, and the defending premiers will be too much for Canberra to deal with. Panthers by 14.