A 71-point tryfest at Panthers Stadium saw Penrith come away with a 40-31 victory over a shattered Canberra Raiders side in front of 12,915 fans this evening.
Penrith started brightly, James Tamou taking advantage of early territorial dominance by the hosts to crash over beside the posts. Canberra weren't happy to rest on that though, and hit back to level scores within five minutes, Joey Leilua sneaking in a try from a penalty tap close to the line.
A 14th minute penalty goal put the visitors ahead through the boot of Sam Williams, but Penrith had regained the ascendency by the 20-minute mark with a Tyrone Peachey four-pointer.
Trailing 12-8, Canberra began to wrestle back control of possession and dominated the remaining minutes of the second half, Elliott Whitehead and Joseph Leilua grabbing handy tries to push the Raiders from behind by four to ahead by eight.
They looked likely to lead Penrith by that margin going into halftime, then out of nowhere Jordan Rapana found himself in possession on his own 10m line, and broke out along the touchline to run 90 metres to score right on the break. A 26-12 lead looked very good for the Raiders, but they still had forty minutes ahead to defend it.
Penrith made good on their comeback story - delivering a scintillating second half which started with a simple try to Dean Whare at the 47th minute. Canberra did hit back near the hour mark to take a 30-18 lead, but the final 20 was all the Panthers.
Peachey's second try shortened the margin back to a converted try, and a Raiders' field goal to Sam Williams only strengthened the home side's resolve. Trailing 31-24, tries to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Mansour and James Maloney delivered an emphatic comeback win and kept the Panthers in contention for the top four after a lean Origin period.
There are injury concerns for the Panthers ahead of next Saturday's trip to the Gold Coast, Josh Mansour copping a stray elbow from Jordan Rapana producing a sizeable gash on his head. Canberra's season will now wind down, they're at home next weekend to the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon, where a win for the Green Machine will just about lock their opponents out of the top eight.