Penrith have conceded just have five tries in the opening five games, and possessing so much flair in attack, they look as ominous as ever.
But it was Canberra survived a shaky start to draw first blood through a dynamic and bruising Jack Wighton, it would prove their highlight of an unsettled first-half that left plenty to be desired.
At the interim, Jarrod Croker would’ve no doubt been ruing his missed grounding and chance to put the Raiders two tries ahead. The visitors were further hindered by a head injury to fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, forcing him to miss the remainder of the contest.
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Stand-in fullback Jordan Rapana couldn’t take a trick, penalised for supposedly “lashing out” and instigating a spot-fire brawl; Penrith capitalised on the ensuing penalty and Charlie Staines slid over untroubled.
Rapana’s woes were compounded as he fumbled under pressure on the goal-line, and with Raiders errors starting to pile-up Penrith enhanced their ascendency, culminating in a lethal Jarome Luai cutout pass and sharp Matt Burton finish to put the Panthers ahead 12-6.
It was Luai again sticking a dagger into Canberra on the cusp of half-time, slicing through the Raiders’ defence to chase and ground his own kick with centimetres to spare, handing Penrith a 12-point advantage at the main break.
As they often do, Canberra refused to give in. Following a toe-to-toe 20-minute stanza to start the second half, a pivotal Hudson Young run into the backfield opened the Panthers’ defence, and Elliott Whitehead’s lightning hands put Croker over in the left corner.
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The Raiders’ momentum was short-lived as a pinpoint Paul Momirovski flick pass and filthy Staines step ensured Penrith retaliated, stretching the margin to 14 points.
Cleary sealed the result with a well-read intercept and 60-metre run, capping off a crucial win that sees the Panthers stay undefeated – moving to 5-0 – lead by the storming runs and bruising hits of Viliame Kikau, flair of Luai, and 263 run metres for Brian To’o.
Whilst it wasn’t their best performance considering the below-standard 73% completion rate, Penrith will be more than happy with a resounding 30-10 victory over strong opposition in the Raiders, a perfect way to celebrate the 1991 premiership anniversary.
Canberra will be disappointed with their performance and failure to capitalise on an early lead, hampered by injuries to Nicoll-Klokstad and Josh Hodgson, with coach Ricky Stuart conceding “we were outplayed by a far better footy team” and not looking to make excuses. The Raiders now sit at 3-2.