It started so well. A Jack Wighton 40-20 off the opening set. Two Penrith goal-line dropouts, a penalty and a six-again.
It meant the Canberra Raiders had the ball for the opening six-and-a-half minutes at Penrith Stadium on Saturday night.
But they couldn't score. The Panthers' defensive line held firm and when they finally got the ball, they burst into life and never fell out of it.
It ended with a 28-12 victory for the Panthers, keeping them at the top of the NRL ladder, while the Raiders remain in fifth - although the Cronulla Sharks could jump ahead of them with a win over Parramatta on Sunday.
It further franked the Panthers' premiership favouritism, helped by their soft draw - which has seen them leave Sydney just once this season.
The Raiders' three-game winning streak came to an end in the process and they'll once again await the match review committee on Sunday.
Canberra second-rower John Bateman was put on a report for a tackle on Stephen Crichton.
Some Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad brilliance got them back into the game.
The Raiders fullback had a shaky start, perhaps his recent finger surgery was playing on his mind as he struggled under the high ball.
But he produced two powerful solo tries to give the Green Machine a sniff in the second half when all looked lost.
Canberra might've lost another hooker in the process, with Siliva Havili picking up a tricep injury in the second half.
He could join Josh Hodgson (knee) on the sideline, potentially leaving Tom Starling and the recently arrived Kurt Baptiste as their only dummy halves.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart hoped it wasn't too bad and was also hopeful Bateman wouldn't be suspended.
"Yeah it was a tricep. I don't know how bad it is. Hopefully it's not too bad," he said.
"I'm hoping he's not out for the week. I don't know how bad it is at the moment, but we can't afford another nine going down."
The Raiders became the fourth team Penrith have held scoreless in the opening half, shooting out to a 24-0 lead at the break despite all the early pressure.
Stuart had a simple message for the Green Message at half-time - win the second half.
It's exactly what they did, with Stuart never questioning his side's character.
"My mood was OK at half-time. We spoke about what the situation was," he said.
"There's no good me going in there and going off my head. That wasn't going to fix anything, so I asked them to lose that.
"We had to lose the first half and win the second half. And we had to start by scoring the first try.
"I never doubt our character. That was never going to be an issue, but I was disappointed in how our first 25 minutes panned out.
"We're better than that, but not tonight."
Everything the home side tried came off, with Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary outstanding.
He found Viliame Kikau running a beautiful line to score the opening try, as the big second-rower resumed his rivalry with England international Bateman.
Hooker Api Koroisau has been credited with as one of the reasons for Penrith's climb up the ladder and his slight of hand set up the second.
He feinted one way, went the other and put Liam Martin over after Nicoll-Klokstad dropped a bomb.
Penrith centre Crichton kept his try-scoring streak going.
He got on the end of a Jarome Luai grubber to make it eight games in a row he's crossed the stripe.
When former Raider Brent Naden dove into the corner on the stroke of half-time it looked a matter of by how much for the Panthers.
As Meninga alluded to, the Raiders did have their chances in the opening stanza.
Josh Papalii was held up and the Green Machin had a try disallowed when Elliott Whitehead went over, but a Jarrod Croker falcon meant Jordan Rapana was offside in the build-up.
Rapana's becoming something of an expert when it comes to captain's challenges.
He convinced Croker to use the new rule when he was forced into touch and was again proved right - something he did in the win over the Roosters a few weeks back.
Nicoll-Klokstad then struck twice.
He ended with 222 run metres along with his two tries. It was an especially good effort given his shaky start to the game.
While Raiders prop Josh Papalii didn't have his usual impact, he still ran for 97m and made 47 tackles.