Match in a box: Raiders v Panthers
Panthers dominate the Raiders
Raiders second-rower Josh Papalii is wrapped up. Photo: Getty Images
PENRITH PANTHERS 32 (Lachlan Coote, Sika Manu, Nigel Plum, James Segeyaro, Nathan Smith tries; Luke Walsh 6 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 10 (Blake Ferguson, Josh McCrone tries; Jarrod Croker goal) at Centrebet Stadium. Referees: Adam Devcich, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 10,882.
3 Lachlan Coote
2 James Segeyaro
1 Nigel Plum
Taking nothing away from the Panthers, but the Raiders should foot plenty of the blame for coughing up the ball time and time again. The Raiders committed 13 errors to the Panthers' eight, but the majority of Canberra's mistakes came within their own half. That forced the Raiders into nearly 50 more tackles and saw them continually pinned down on their own line. While they hung in the game until midway through the second half, it was only a matter of time before the Panthers put them to the sword.
THE OFF DAY
It was a day to forget for Raiders winger Sandor Earl in his return to Centrebet Stadium, making five errors against his former club. Earl has been a revelation since crossing to the Raiders from the Panthers during the middle of last season, but had his poorest game for the club. He blew a certain try when he went for the corner inside of passing to an open teammate inside, although he was unlucky not to get the green light. Could be under pressure to hold his spot with Reece Robinson returning from injury.
The Raiders will wonder if the momentum would've been any different had two line-ball calls in the first half gone their way. Earl looked like he had crossed in the corner with an acrobatic finish, but the video referee denied the four-pointer despite the winger's fingertips appearing to be on the ball as it hit the ground. The Raiders were also fuming when Segeyaro scooted from dummy-half close to the tryline to score just before half-time. It could have easily been an obstruction call against the man playing the ball, but the video referee deemed otherwise.
THE ROUND ONE WOES
Notoriously slow starters, the Raiders lived up to their reputation with yet another season-opening defeat. They've now won only one of their past seven round one fixtures and haven't won on the road in the first game of the year since 2006. The Raiders are desperate to avoid needing a late-season surge to make the finals as they did last year. They can get back on track next week against the Gold Coast Titans, having won at Skilled Park in the corresponding round 12 months ago.
It looms as tough week at the selection table for the Raiders, with several regulars set to push their claims for a first-grade recall. Winger Reece Robinson and hooker Glen Buttriss are both expected to be fit for next Sunday's match with the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park. Representative prop Brett White continued his comeback from a knee reconstruction with Mounties in the NSW Cup and will also be in the running. Fullback Josh Dugan could be in doubt after clutching at his shoulder in Sunday's loss.