Penrith dismiss finals record v Raiders

It’s been 25 years, almost to the day, since Penrith last beat Canberra in a rugby league finals match.

But, according to coach Anthony Griffin, that’s ancient history.

“Most of these blokes weren’t even born then,” he smiled.

The two sides go head-to-head on Saturday in the NRL’s second semi-final at GIO Stadium, with the winner to play Melbourne next week for a spot in the grand final.

The Raiders and Panthers met in back-to-back deciders in 1990 and 1991 – with the Green Machine claiming honours first up and the men in black getting their revenge a year later.

But since then, Penrith have lost all three playoffs against Canberra – two of them in the nation’s capital.

“It’s club history but that’s never been a focus of ours,” added Griffin.

“Our main focus has just been trying to build the team we’ve got at the moment and play for ourselves, but also our members and our fans.

“It’s a massive year for our club being our 50th year and the players have got a real desire to recognise that with our performances so that the whole of our district – members, fans, people at Penrith – can be proud of their football team.”

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart played in that ’91 grand final and hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.

“I don’t take too much out of it, but I’d like to be able to say there’s a different result,” he said.

Stuart has been a stickler for acknowledging the club’s past successes, inviting a swag of ex-players to games throughout the season.

It was no different this week, with former utility Rowan Brennan speaking to the team in the sheds before training on Wednesday night.

“He was Raider No.26 and he’s a great, passionate member of our club,” Stuart said.

“It’s nice to see the faces of our ex-players hanging around and still showing great interest in the club.”

Canberra have won just four of 15 finals matches played since 1998, and only two of its past 12.

They are the only team to not reach a preliminary final in the NRL era.

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