Jack Wighton controversy overshadows Raiders big win

Canberra Raiders 34
Tries: Sam Williams, Jarrod Croker, Jarrad Kennedy, Shaun Fensom, Kurt Baptiste, Sisa Waqa
Goals: Jarrod Croker (5/6)

Penrith Panthers 18
Tries: James Segeyaro, Lewis Brown, Will Smith
Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1), Apisai Koroisau (2/2)

In a match slated to determine the contenders for the wooden spoon in 2015, there was little else on the line but to avoid the dubious honour on offer for both Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers, both out of finals contention for the season. While Canberra had notoriously struggled at home throughout the year, they put on a good show for the determined small crowd that braved the cold at GIO Stadium last night for the last time this season.

Canberra opened the scoring in the 7th minute with a try to Sam Williams, who strolled through a disinterested defensive line, setting a tone for the Panthers that would be difficult for them to undo. On the back of Blake Austin’s re-signing until the end of 2018, and club favourite David Shillington’s last game at home, Canberra seemed electrified.

Croker, Kennedy and Fensom would stack on tries before Penrith were able to find a semblance of a response, with Segeyaro ducking through from dummy half to score in the 32nd minute. Penrith began picking up pace, and at 22 – 6 appeared to be inserting themselves into the game at long last, before a big hit on Jamie Soward, courtesy of Jack Wighton, took Penrith’s lone experienced playmaker off the field via medi-cab.

In a contentious call, Soward was ruled to have lost the ball, and no penalty was received for the tackle, which appeared on replay to have shown Wighton making contact to Soward’s head with his shoulder.

The first twenty minutes of the second half were an arm wrestle, with no further point scoring until the 60th minute, with a try to Canberra via Kurt Baptiste. Croker made short work of the conversion attempt, and the scoreline sat at 28 – 6. Only four minutes later, Penrith responded with a try to the Manly-bound Lewis Brown, converted by stand-in half Apisaoi Koroisau. Come the 71st minute, Canberra proved they were not done inflicting their exciting brand of football on their wounded opposition, with a try to experienced winger Sisa Waqa.

In what was little consolation, Penrith scored the last try of the night, with Matt Moylan’s fill-in fullback Will Smith demonstrating impressive speed to lay on his first NRL try.

Canberra showed their flair could count with an impressive win – however 44 missed tackles for the home side and 33 for Penrith show big flaws in their defensive work rate that go some way to explaining why they won’t be participating in the season beyond round 26.

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