‘Green Machine’ prove too good to down a desperate Penrith Panthers side.
The Canberra Raiders kept their unbeaten run at home going this NRL season, after securing an impressive 24-12 win over the Penrith Panthers.
Underlining how tough it is for away teams to win at Canberra Stadium, it was the 10th victory in a row for the Raiders on their own patch.
The side had not achieved that feat since 2000, when current coach David Furner was lining up in the backrow.
Penrith continued their woes away from home this year as their record slumped to just one victory from six game, averaging just 10 points.
Despite the loss the Panthers were far from blown off the park by Canberra, who were able to combine their flashy, loose style of play with the ability to complete sets and build pressure.
Canberra had the perfect start to the game when Blake Ferguson stole the ball out of the grasp of the Panthers’ Travis Robinson, to sail across the line.
In what was his 50th NRL try, Ferguson took his tally to 13 in as many games as Jarrod Croker took the score to 6-0 after five minutes.
Canberra’s forwards looked in ominous form early as they rolled downfield easily, which did not bode well for the Panthers.
Reece Robinson scored off the back of a Penrith mistake as the Raiders made the score 12-0.
The Raiders generated plenty of second-phase plays through off-loads which kept the Penrith defence on their toes.
However, Penrith started to get a better share of field possession but they were unable to build pressure.
A turnover by the Raiders coming out of their own half, the visitors shifted the ball to their right edge as Dean Whare found David Simmons for the easy try.
Simmons’ 79th career try bode well for the Panthers for the rest of the game, as the structure leading up to it was classy.
Luke Walsh continued his impressive recent record with the boot to slot the conversion from the sideline to make it 12-6 after 30 minutes.
Momentum swung the way of Penrith in the lead-up to half-time after being sparked into action with their first try and a glut of possession.
However, in a bizarre try, Josh McCrone threw an attempted cut-out pass which bounced forward
off the head of Josh Papalli, allowing McCrone to clean up the ricochet and score under the posts as the home side led 18-6 at the break.
Penrith’s options at the end of their sets continue to be poor, with their kicks often failing to build pressure through drop-outs.
The visitors pulled off some desperate defence stopped Paul Vaughn from scoring his first NRL try as Matt Moylan and James Segeyaro combined to keep their side in the contest.
But off the restart, Vaughn would not be denied as he carried four Penrith players across the line
in an impressive show of strength.
Croker added the extras and the home side skipped out to an important 18-point lead.
Penrith attempted to shake up the game with a chip-kick over the top led to a linebreak by Moylan.
But desperate defence by the Raiders on several occasions saw them snuff out the attacking raid by the Panthers.
Canberra were denied a try for Shaun Fensom despite a touch of brilliance by Sandor Earl, who flicked a pass back in field 15 metres while traveling over the sideline and in mid-air.
Penrith started to play catch-up football with just 12 minutes left and still an 18-point margin against
them, as they threw the ball around in a desperate bid to crack the Raiders’ line.
Jarrod Croker got a knock to his troublesome left knee, taken off as a precaution give his side were
on control of the game.
Segeyaro lost the ball in a twisting effort to get across the line, with the video referee denying the Panthers in what was their last salvo.
However, the Panthers did score a consolation try through Simmons, who bagged his second for the game to make it 24-12.