The Panthers all but ended the Raiders’ final hopes with a 26-6 win, with Dylan Edwards taking part in a gutsy masterclass at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders got off to a dream start with Josh Papalii bursting from close range under the sticks, before the Panthers scored four tries in a row over Api Koroisau, Stephen Crichton, Dylan Edwards and Jaeman Salmon to claim a convincing win.
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Papalii sent the Raiders on a flyer with a barge on a try under the sticks to give the home side the advantage.
The Panthers fought back with Origin hooker Api Koroisau scoring to lock in the scores.
An offside penalty saw Stephen Crichton knock down two runs to give the Panthers a slim lead.
Crichton then scored a try after jumping on a kick from Sean O’Sullivan to extend his lead.
Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris was sent to the trash for a high tackle on Raiders forward Ryan Sutton.
Nick Cotric was sentenced for a high tackle on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards with the Raiders reduced to 12 men just as the Panthers went back to 13 men.
Edwards completed a long-range try in his 100th scoring game to push the visitors to a 14-point lead.
Luai’s replacement Jaeman Salmon scored a brilliant solo try with a show and will put the result beyond doubt.
Here are the main takeaways from the game.
EDWARDS’ BRAVE WATCH LEADS PANTHERS TO VICTORY
Dylan Edwards was injured in action and hit multiple times with huge tackles, but fought back in a heroic display to lead the Panthers to victory.
Edwards finished with 155 yards, six tackle saves, two offloads, a line break and a long-range try that broke the Raiders’ back.
Michael Ennis marveled at Edwards’ tenacity after bouncing back from injury to score a crucial try to make it 20-6 in the second half.
“He’s made of Dylan Edwards steel,” Ennis said.
“He was on his hips uncomfortable with what was troubling him in his shoulder or collarbone.
“But he kept pressing and pushing down the middle.
“Edwards grimacing and in pain kind of puts himself in the frame. Physically forcing himself to stay in the competition even though he’s in pain.
“What a remarkable player he is. What a difficult client.
“He’s a superstar for the Panthers. They wouldn’t trade him for anyone because of the work he does and the way he compliments the Penrith style.
“He shows real desperation defensively and this try has shown his tenacity. It was a difficult time. »
KOROISAU INTEGRATES IN THE ABSENCE OF PANTHER HALVES
The Panthers needed some of their original stars to step in in the absence of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai and while Sean O’Sullivan was strong, Api Koroisau looked half dummy superb.
The Panthers were trailing 6-0 early on before Koroisau took it upon himself to bring the Panthers back into the contest with a solo try from the fictional running back and they never looked back.
Cooper Cronk thinks Koroisau’s try turned the page in favor of the Panthers.
“It was Api Koroisau who had just probed and plotted half of the dummy right off the line,” Cronk said.
Ennis believes the Panthers needed Koroisau to be at his best and he answered the call.
“Koroisau out of the dummyhalf goes right through Woolford’s tackle and slides under,” Ennis said.
“He just bends down and weaves. Koroisau was wreaking havoc in the middle of the Raiders defensive line.
“He brought the Panthers right back into the contest.”
Corey Parker praised Koroisau for making the team his own.
“Without Luai and Cleary, they needed some of their other stars to step up and Koroisau did that,” Parker said.
Koroisau finished with 26 yards of running, three tackle saves, a line break, 25 tackles and a try.
RAIDERS FINAL HOPES FALL DESPITE PAPALII’S MASTERCLASS
The Raiders started strong and led 6-0 on the back of a Josh Papalii try, but they will regret a missed chance as their final aspirations took a huge hit.
Corey Parker thinks the Raiders were the better team early on, but the Panthers wouldn’t allow them to stay in the competition as the game progressed.
“The Canberra Raiders crossed for the first down of the game through Josh Papalii and they dominated at various stages, but the Panthers hung on,” Parker said.
Papalii finished with 100 yards from 11 carries, three tackle busts, a line break, 25 tackles and a try in a stunning display.
The Raiders missed Xavier Savage’s spark on offense and halves Jack Wighton and Jamal Fogarty were unable to create any real tryout opportunities.
The Raiders now find themselves two points behind the eighth-placed Roosters with a poor point differential and with only four games left, it’s hard to see them playing footy in the Finals.
They also lost arguably their best striker this season to Joe Tapine to a rib injury.
Canberra Raiders host Penrith Panthers in crucial clash at GIO Stadium.
Raiders full-back Xavier Savage has been ruled out with an ankle injury, with Albert Hopoate getting a rare start in the keeper role.
Jordan Rapana returns from suspension on the wing, while Adam Elliott is expected to overcome a hip injury to take his place on the lockdown.
For the Panthers, Viliame Kikau was ruled out with a hip injury, with Christopher Smith entering the back row and Sunia Turuva coming on the bench.
Sean O’Sullivan replaces the suspended Nathan Cleary at half-back, while Jaeman Salmon comes in at five-eighths.
Stephen Crichton returns from a nasty ear injury in crosses, while substitute hooker Mitch Kenny returns to the bench.
The ninth-placed Raiders desperately need to win to keep their Finals hopes alive, while the Panthers can do anything but wrap up the little premiership with a win.
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