Canberra unleashed the ultimate demolish job on a stunned Penrith Panthers with a record-breaking 74-12 win at Canberra Stadium on Sunday afternoon, all but cementing their claims for a finals appearance. After such a performance by his old team, Panthers coach Matt Elliott would surely be on suicide watch – after his former charges turned on the ultimate NRL Rugby League showing.
The Raiders asserted themselves with a dominant 38-12 first half before the floodgates opened as Canberra ran in 13 tries to two in what was the perfect response to the mid-week sacking of half-back Todd Carney.
Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese was instrumental in his sides’ victory, scoring 36 points including four tries and ten conversions, in a superb individual effort to secure a new club record. Pivot Campese has grown immensely in confidence and stature throughout the 2008 season and has really thrown himself into the fray as one of the NRL’s leading five-eighths.
Canberra’s second rower Trevor Thurling managed to score a rare hat-trick to add to the total which saw the Raiders leapfrog from tenth to sixth spot on the NRL ladder.
Second rower Trevor Thurling also grabbed brace with prop Dane Tilse, Joel Monaghan, winger Justin Carney and Tom Leearoyd-Lahrs all crossing the line for the Raiders.
The Raider have now won their last three home games by a combined total of 163-28 catapulting them second in the League for points scored. The big wins have seen them rebound nicely in the points differential stakes, currently slotting into 6th spot on the NRL ladder with only a handful of Rounds to go.
The shell-shocked Panthers scored their last try of the match in the 20th minute after a length of field try to full-back Rhys Wesser.
Wesser also set up Penrith’s first to Michael Gordon in the third minute.
But it was all down hill from there, the lacklustre Panthers capitulating early in the second half, with mistakes, missed tackles and ill-discipline ruling out any chances of a contest.
Penrith now have an up hill battle of making the eight facing which includes matches against the Warriors, Manly and Melbourne.
The Raiders face a much easier task with the Knights, Rabbitohs and Cowboys all ahead.
Raiders: 74 (T Campese 4, T Thurling 3, D Tilse, J Monaghan, J Carney, D Milne, A Tongue, T Learoyd-Lahrs tries; T Campese 9, M Herbert conversions)
Penrith: 12 (M Gordon, R Wesser tries; M Gordon 2 conversions)