Panthers looking for NRL bounce back

Penrith have history on their side when they host Canberra on Sunday, a week after suffering the heaviest loss of the NRL season.

The Panthers come into the clash at Pepper Stadium after copping a 52-10 hammering from Melbourne, but of some comfort to Penrith fans is the fact they have won their past two games after conceding half centuries.

In 2008, the Panthers turned around a 74-12 loss to Canberra to defeat Canterbury 52-16 in Penrith the following week.

A year later, Penrith bounced back from a 58-24 loss to Brisbane to defeat South Sydney 40-10, at the foot of the mountains.

Back-rower Bryce Cartwright, who was forced off the field during the first half of the Storm game due to a knee injury, admitted it was a difficult loss to cop but is keen to bounce back at home.

“We’ve got to put that one behind us. It was tough to watch and handle, seeing all the boys in the sheds after the game was really upsetting,” said Cartwright, who will start on the bench.

“It’s a tough game against Canberra, but we are at home and that’s really important.”

Both Canberra and Penrith are in danger of losing touch with the top eight.

The Raiders dropped two straight games since halfback Sam Williams was ruled out with a pectoral injury and he will miss at least another couple of weeks.

Penrith and Canberra sit on 18 points and two wins from the eighth-placed Cronulla who travel to Belmore to face Canterbury later on Sunday.

Since Williams’ setback, the Raiders have struggled to find a replacement with veteran Josh McCrone promoted from NSW Cup to No.7 after last week’s failed experiment by coach Ricky Stuart in using Jack Wighton, who will play fullback against Penrith.

Canberra captain Jarrod Croker has backed his halves – Blake Austin and McCrone – to aim up against a pair he regards highly in the Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace.

“There’s no question they’ve got a quality set of halves there with a good kicking and passing game,” Croker said of the Penrith combination.

“But I’m confident in our halves. Macca’s got so much experience, Austo’s on top of his game at the moment, so hopefully those two boys work well together.

“I think it’s going to be a big battle up front again, and if our big boys can get them going forward, it’ll help Macca and Austo lots.”


– Penrith’s 42-point loss to Melbourne last week was the biggest defeat of any team in 2015 and gave the Panthers a fifth 20 points or greater loss for the season, a record matched only by the Titans.

– At Penrith the Panthers have also won five of the past seven meetings and have lost just 11 of 30 matches overall, with the Raiders last win coming in 2012.

– A win in this match would see the Panthers win three straight against the Raiders in Penrith for the first time since 1998-2001 when they won four in a row.

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