Firstly, congratulations should go to the Penrith Panthers.
Far too good on the day in every aspect. Far more urgency in defence and enthusiasm with the ball in hand. The Panthers thoroughly deserved their win today and will only get better as the season progresses. Ivan Cleary has a squad of players have have bought into what he is selling and it showed on the field today. Six out of 14 new recruits were on show and acquitted themselves well and will only improve as they gel a a squad.
The Panthers new recruits blended seamlessly into the Panthers side and players such as Lewis Brown, Dean Whare and Wes Naqiama covered themselves in glory in their opening appearance for the Panthers.
The Raiders on the other hand were woeful in both attack and defence. Sandor Earl headlined 80 minutes of stupidity and seemed more worried about his appearance than his performance. He was not alone though. Josh Dugan was poor as was Sam Williams and perennial disappointment Tom Learoyd-Lahrs. Only Blake Ferguson, Jack Wighton and Dane Tilse looked up to the task with Matt McIlwrick showing some spark off the bench at dummy half.
Raiders half Sam Williams is attracting significant attention from rival clubs for next season and beyond. They’d be well served to show some patience before throwing big money at him because on today’s effort, he’s not worth the half million price tag some teams are willing to pay for his services.
Yes, it is only round one but with the Raiders traditional slow starters, getting off to a flyer was crucial to their chances but there was nothing I could take out of this game today that showed me the Raiders have progressed as a team so premiership number four looks as elusive as ever.