Canberra and Penrith have suffered major injury setbacks in their NRL season-opener, with stars Blake Austin and James Segeyaro both hurt in the Raiders’ spirited 30-22 win.
Austin limped off GIO Stadium early in the second half of Saturday’s game with possible medial ligament damage to his right knee, while Segeyaro sustained a suspected broken arm.
It soured what was a tight and often ugly affair in which debutants from both sides sizzled in the searing heat.
The temperature nudged 35 degrees in the nation’s capital, prompting the Panthers to order an extra 100kg of ice just before kick-off to help keep their players cool.
Dally M five-eighth of the year Austin had been named on the bench to ease his way back from major shoulder surgery last September but started the game after Sam Williams was a late scratching (virus).
He showed no signs of concern in his first outing of the year, scoring a try, assisting in another and kicking a monster 70m-plus drop-out before being sidelined.
But his new halves partner Aidan Sezer made up for his absence, scoring a double on debut for the Raiders.
Panthers recruits Trent Merrin and Peter Hiku also laid on tries in their first NRL games for their new club.
The Raiders looked to have control in the first-half, up 12-2 at the mid-point via tries to Edrick Lee and Austin but went to the break 16-16 thanks to Merrin and Hiku.
The visitors took the lead when Austin went down with a converted Josh Mansour four-pointer, only for Sezer to level with his second in the 55th minute.
Back-to-back penalty goals to skipper Jarrod Croker put Ricky Stuart’s men back in front by four.
Strongman Shaun Fensom wrapped it up in the dying seconds with a try, after making more than 40 tackles and running 125 metres.
The victory had Stuart jumping on the sidelines.