Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Sunday afternoon clash between Penrith and Canberra …
Penrith Panthers 36
Tries: Stephen Crichton 3 (13, 55, 58), Isaah Yeo (32), Taylan May (67), Viliame Kikau (72)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 6 (15, 33, 36, – pen, 59, 69, 73)
Canberra Raiders 6
Tries: Joseph Tapine (17)
Goals: Brad Schneider (19)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
While nobody – not even the ”bleed-iest green-iest” fan – gave Canberra a hope against the almost-invincible Panthers at Penrith Park, the Raiders finally showed some fight.
After another inexplicable fade-out against North Queensland last weekend, Canberra’s defence held firm for the first half here, only conceding two tries (Stephen Crichton and Isaah Yeo) and getting one back through Joseph Tapine.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 14 Canberra Raiders 6Embed from Getty Images
Penrith seemed content to be patient and wait for the weight of possession and defensive workload to wear Canberra down so they could run up a cricket score in the final 20 minutes.
That’s exactly what happened: while Canberra resisted for the first 15 minutes, Crichton’s second try shattered the green wall. It didn’t help that Penrith’s suffocating defence meant Canberra had almost no ball inside the Panthers’ half (and only 39% possession) and made 133 more tackles (402 to 269).
Then the ruthless Panthers put the foot down, with tries to Taylan May (his eighth try in six games), Crichton‘s hat-trick, and a try to Viliame Kikau blowing the margin out to 30. While it didn’t reflect Canberra’s bravery, it did reflect how dominant Penrith were.
The biggest ”controversy” was joyous Penrith fans ”mocking” Canberra’s Viking Clap during the second half. Depending who you ask, this was either arrogant and insulting or just a bit of fun. Regardless, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was in no mood to discuss it in his brief post-game press conference, which will fuel a week of ’Grumpy Ricky’ clickbait on social media.
Speaking of Canberra, they slumped to 15th and face must-win games against the NZ Warriors and Canterbury-Bankstown, followed by a nightmare quad of Cronulla-Sutherland, South Sydney, Parramatta, and the Sydney/Eastern Suburbs Roosters. To be frank, if Canberra can’t at least beat the struggling Bulldogs, they deserve their first wooden spoon in 40 years.
As for Penrith, they’re still undefeated, have won 21 straight at Penrith Park, and are seemingly headed to another top two finish. Their big test will be in rounds 10 (Melbourne) and 11 (the Roosters).
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 36 Canberra Raiders 6
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Stephen Crichton (Panthers), 2 pts – Nathan Cleary (Panthers), 1 pt – Dylan Edwards (Panthers)
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