The game of the rounds saw the champions elect Penrith Panthers at home to fifth placed Canberra Raiders. The Panthers needed the win to go back to the top of the ladders after Melbourne Strom reached the summit earlier in the round. The Green Machine knew that a win would do nothing for their ladder position but it would draw them level on points with the Sydney Roosters.
Both sides made just a single change to their line-ups, the Panthers replacing Charlie Staines with Daine Laurie while the Raiders had Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in at full back as a swap for Semi Valemei.
The home side were the favourites for the win but the Raiders would be giving it everything they had got.
The Raiders pummelled the Panthers line in the opening exchanges forcing a tremendous defence from the home side which included several goal line drop-outs. There was no way through for the Green Machine and the Panthers were celebrating every tackle line it was a try.
On their first sortie into the Canberra half the Panthers opened the scoring, Viliame Kikau hitting the line to take a pass from Nathan Cleary to smash through the defence and go ten metres to ground. Cleary added the conversion for a 6-0 lead after thirteen minutes.
Canberra looked crestfallen when the Panthers got their second on eighteen when Apisai Koroisau found Liam Martin in a gap to go through the line. Both second rowers now on the scoresheet. Cleary added the conversion for 12-0, the Panthers finding their feet after repelling the early onslaught.
As the rain fell Stephen Crichton scored the third try for the panthers as he touched down a Jarome Luai grubber kick, beating the cover tackler in the foot race to the ball. Cleary added the conversion for an 18-0 lead. It was a Panthers masterclass.
A sensation Brent Naden flying one-handed try by the right corner flag was the final try of a stunning opening half for the Panthers as they kept the Raiders pointless. Cleary added the extras from the touchline for a 24-0 interval lead, the game was close to being over with forty on the clock.
The Raiders finally broke the Panthers line on forty-eight when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad managed to get over the line and force the ball onto the ground. Referee Sutton referred the score to the bunker as a try and there was no TV angle to go against him. Jarrod Croker added the conversion, the margin reduced to eighteen.
A Cleary penalty on fifty-seven pushed the lead back out to four converted tries.
Nicoll-Klokstad scored his second try of the night on sixty-five, again sliding over the line after taking the ball five metres out. It was some respectability for Canberra as Croker added the extra two for 12-26.
A Cleary goal after the final hooter made it 28-12 for an crucial Penrith win.
A better performance in the second half, keeping the Panthers from breaking their line, was still not enough for the Canberra Raiders to trouble the new ladder leaders. The Panthers march continues after the registered their eighth straight win on the back of a terrific performance from Clearly in the halves.
Penrith Panthers: Aekins, Mansour, Crichton (T), May, Naden (T), Luai, Cleary (6G), Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau (T), Martin (T), Yeo. Subs: Laurie, Leniu, Leota, Tetevano.
Canberra Raiders: Nicoll-Klokstad (2T), Rapana, Croker (2G), Scott, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Havili, Lui, Bateman, Whitehead, Young. Subs: Starling, Tapine, Sutton, Harawira-Naera.
Referee: Gerrard Sutton.
Ground: Panthers Stadium, Penrith.