Hat-trick hero too classy for Panthers, plucky Raiders fail to stick to blueprint: 3 Big Hits

The Panthers stormed home to thrash a plucky Raiders outfit 36-6 with hat-trick hero Stephen Crichton and hooker Api Koroisau’s class shining through.

After a dominant early period Stephen Crichton dived over for the first try of the day to give the Panthers the lead before a try to Joseph Tapine saw the scores locked up.

However, the Panthers took the lead again with a try to skipper Isaah Yeo six minutes out from halftime, before a Nathan Cleary penalty goal made it 14-6 at halftime.

The Panthers picked up where they left off in the second half with Crichton grabbing a double, including a penalty try to seal his hat-trick and put the home side in the box seat.

Taylan May continued his hot run of form to score in the corner and put the game to bed, before Viliame Kikau crashed over to put the icing on the cake for a 36-6 win.


The Raiders were brave in defence, but the class of the Panthers and particularly hooker Api Koroisau and hat-trick hero Stephen Crichton was the difference between the two sides.

Koroisau and Crichton set the tone for the afternoon combining for the first try and every time the Raiders looked like getting back into the contest their class shone through.

Michael Ennis commended Koroisau and the other Panthers’ playmakers for creating space for Crichton by drawing in defenders in the middle.

“It all starts with Api Koroisau who is absolutely terrorising the ruck of the Raiders at the moment with his deception and his tempo,” Ennis said after the first try to Crichton.

“He gets out and holds three Raiders defenders at the ruck. Great ball movement from Cleary and Edwards.

“Stephen Crichton what a season he is having again the young man.

“You watch that middle third of the Raiders’ defensive line and Koroisau has just hit his leads.

“He has had great movement. Cleary and Yeo ball playing through the middle and the tackle count numbers of the Raiders’ middle forwards is just climbing.

“Koroisau out of dummyhalf with great deception went deep into the line and he attracted three of the Raiders’ middle defenders.

“It created space on the edge. It was all class from the Panthers No.9.”

Ennis believes it can’t be underestimated how much Koroisau means to the Panthers’ attack, but it comes off the back of his forwards’ work up front.

“Koroisau was tremendous to start the game,” Ennis said.

“He had two runs in the opening set on the back of the dominance form their middle forwards and the momentum he was able to run on the back of.

“He was awesome in the opening 20 minutes.”

Crichton took over the game in the second half, willing his way to they try line for his second, before he was awarded a penalty try to seal his hat-trick.

“Crichton is just such a wonderful athlete,” Ennis said.

“He is such a great finisher.

“The Raiders should be proud of their defence, but it is just the class of the Panthers in key moments that has seen them find a way through.”


With the first try of the game for the Raiders Tom Starling showed the blueprint for success only for the Green Machine to ignore what works for most of the rest of the afternoon.

Starling showed what the Raiders can do with quick play-the-balls darting out of dummyhalf and using Joseph Tapine up the middle of the field for an excellent try to lock up the scores at 6-6.

Michael Ennis noted how successful the Raiders are when they get fast play-the-balls and use forwards running at speed on the angle.

“Starling finds Tapine who has been right in the thick of the action and crashes over,” Corey Parker said.

“With their first opportunity it is Starling the little dummyhalf scheming out of the ruck and Tapine who has had a tremendous start to the game,” Ennis said.

“Just watch him change his line and punch into the hole. Great signs and a great start from Tom Starling.

“They are a different side the Raiders when Starling is out attacking. We have already seen him with a couple of scurry’s out of dummyhalf on the back of some fast play-the-balls.

“That certainly takes a lot of pressure off halves Brad Schneider and Jack Wighton when Starling is out threatening with his big forwards.”

Unfortunately Starling barely ran the ball for the rest of the game as the Raiders persisted with tactics to move the ball wide to their outside backs without earning the right through the middle of the field.

Ennis noted Jack Wighton’s lack of a running game in the first half.

“They have got to try and inject Jack Wighton into their attack,” Ennis said.

“Only one run in the first half.”

If the Raiders persist with trying to go around sides before attracting defenders on the inside they won’t score enough points to win too many games this season and certainly not against the class of the Panthers.

Source: foxsports.com.au