Match Preview: Raiders v Panthers

Both sides are coming off losses in Round 4 but the Panthers will be feeling considerably more positive about themselves than a Canberra outfit that was well below its best in Newcastle.

The premiers opened the round with an epic 17-16 loss to the Eels in a match that went down to the wire and beyond while the Raiders had a Sunday afternoon to forget as they gave up a 14-8 half-time lead to go down 24-14 to the Knights.

Compounding matters for the Raiders was the sin binning of five-eighth for high contact on Jackson Hastings, with the star No.6 charged on Monday and facing a two-game ban.

The Knights had too much flair in attack and made easy metres in the second half, an issue Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will need to address this week as they look to contain the potent Panthers backline.

The Panthers' back three of Dylan Edwards (313m), Sunia Turuva (319m) and Brian To'o (240m) ran for an astonishing 872 metres between them against Parramatta and will make Canberra pay if they are given any latitude on kick returns.

In Round 21 last year the two sides clashed in Canberra and it was Isaah Yeo and Moses Leota laying the platform for a comfortable Panthers victory, their 18th of the season from 20 games as they powered towards another minor premiership.

They may not have looked quite as formidable in 2023 without Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau, but it looks to be only a matter of time before the champs click into gear and the Raiders will need to be at their absolute best to keep them at bay.

Team News
Raiders: Winger Jordan Rapana makes a welcome return from suspension with James Schiller the man to make way for the veteran. Halfback Jamal Fogarty returns after missing the Knights game due to illness so Matt Frawley switches to five-eighth to cover for the suspended Jack Wighton, who will miss two games. Club legend Jarrod Croker was part of the extended squad on Tuesday but dropped out 24 hours from kick-off along with Peter Hola and Trey Mooney.

Panthers: Luke Garner is being rested as he battles some niggles so Scott Sorensen comes into the starting side and Lindsay Smith joins the bench. World Cup star Liam Martin remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and hooker Soni Luke is also out after suffering a head knock in Round 4. Tyrone Peachey is the new man on the bench to cover for Luke. No changes in Thursday's 24-hour update.

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