Rugby League


Canberra Raiders' loss to Penrith Panthers at Bathurst still 'sticks' with Junior Paulo

It's a loss that still sticks with Canberra Raiders prop Junior Paulo after the Green Machine were caught napping at the foot of Mt Panorama.

But his middle-partner Elliott Whitehead vows they've moved on and winning, not revenge, is all that when they face the Penrith Panthers at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.

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The Raiders were leading the Panthers 20-12 with less than two minutes to go when Panthers captain Matt Moylan set up two converted tries to pinch the win for the home team at Bathurst.

It could prove a costly loss of the Green Machine in the final wash-up, as they now sit two wins behind eighth-placed North Queensland with three games remaining.

But a win on Sunday will not only snap the Panthers' six-game winning streak, but also reinvigorate Canberra's NRL finals hopes as Penrith are one of three teams four premiership points ahead of them on the ladder.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted that loss took his team several weeks to get over and Paulo said it was something that still didn't sit well with him.


He said the two teams had developed a rivalry in recent years, re-igniting one that dates back to 1990-91 when they played back-to-back grand finals against each other and sharing the spoils.

Last year, the Raiders knocked the Panthers out of the premiership race when they beat them 22-12 in the semi-final.

"They caught us napping the last time we played them in Bathurst so it's definitely a tough loss to cop and it's something we definitely remember too," Paulo said on Wednesday.

"We definitely owe them ... we should've put that one away, but they're a team that never gives up and they're a team that can score from anywhere on the park and that's something we've got to be wary of going into this Sunday's match as well.

"Obviously it's a while ago, but a loss still sticks around. Like everyone says, there's a rivalry between us and them going back to last year's semi-finals as well.

"That was a tough game and I'm sure they equalled us with the one in Bathurst. But we've got to come out this Sunday and perform like it is our last game."

While the Panthers are on a winning streak, so too are the Raiders, having won their last three games, but they need to win the next three to make the eight.

Whitehead has been part of a Canberra pack that's dominated their opponents in recent weeks, including an inspirational win over reigning premiers Cronulla.

But the England international wasn't concerned with the past - getting the win on Sunday to keep their season alive was all that mattered.

"It's a different game. It was disappointing to lose the way we did against [Penrith] back at Bathurst, but it's a big game for us and they'll want to get the two points as well so we have to be switched on and complete as well as we have the last two weeks," Whitehead said.

"We were all disappointed the way we lost that game - with two minutes to go and they score two tries to get the two points - but we've moved on from that and we know what we need to do this weekend so we'll just concentrate on that ... we need to win this week and that's all that matters."


Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers at Canberra Stadium, 2pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (c) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joe Tapine 13. Elliott Whitehead. Interchange from: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Clay Priest 16. Dave Taylor 17. Luke Bateman 18. Michael Oldfield 19. Jeff Lima 20. Royce Hunt 21. Erin Clark.

Panthers:1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Sione Katoa 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Moses Leota. Interchange from: 14. Tyrone May 15. Bryce Cartwright 16. Tim Browne 17. James Fisher-Harris 18. Trent Merrin 19. Dean Whare 20. Viliame Kikau 21. Mitch Rein.