The Penrith Panthers sent an ominous message to their rivals, with a dominant second-half showing against the Canberra Raiders catching the eye of some league icons.
Ivan Cleary’s side reeled off 30 unanswered points to record a 36-6 win over the Raiders, maintaining their perfect 7-0 start to the season.
The helpless Raiders were penned into their half of the field during the Panthers’ second-half avalanche, with Penrith recording 22 consecutive play-the-balls inside their opposition’s 40 before a late foray forward by Canberra.
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Penrith finished the contest with 61 per cent possession, and ran for a whopping 1785 metres, over a thousand metres more than the Raiders’ 779.
The onslaught was compared to Penrith’s round six win over the Broncos by league legend Brad Fitter, which saw a similar second-half domination after a gallant first half by Brisbane.
“If you want to take on the premiers, you’ve got to be going hard for 80 (minutes), you can’t be just sitting there submitting,” he said on Nine’s coverage.
“You’ve got to play footy, concentrate, be disciplined, the lot. You’ve got to bring the lot.”
“Playing for 80 minutes is now in the Panthers’ DNA,” Phil Gould added. “They don’t know any different.”
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“They’ve got so much strike power that if you don’t play for 80 minutes, they’ll keep the scoreboard ticking.
“It’s been nothing more than a training session for them in the second half. The first seven or eight minutes were really competitive in the second half.
“The Raiders were trying hard and then you could just feel Penrith won that cycle battle and have not let the Raiders get anywhere near out of their own half of the field.
“That’s what the good sides do, they just break your will. They’ll take your best, absorb it, and then they’ll come back harder and break your will.”
Cleary’s men face a tough month of football, with road games against the Titans, Storm and Roosters on the horizon, as well as a home meeting against the Eels. According to Storm great Billy Slater, the next four matches will show Cleary exactly where his team stands.
“The Eels and the Storm are the two big ones,” Slater told Wide World of Sports’ Billy’s Breakdown.
“They’re the ones that are going to compete longer and harder than the teams that they’re playing at the moment.
“That’s where we’ll see where this premiership-winning Panthers team are at in 2022.”
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