It was a Sunday for the away sides in the NRL, with Canberra Raiders and Parramatta Eels getting off to winning starts to the season to bring round one to an end.
The Raiders kept a clean sheet for the first time in six years, beating a depleted Gold Coast 21-0 on a soggy Sunday on the Gold Coast.
In a game littered with errors it was the Raiders who made the better of their opportunities in an encouraging performance by the new-look side.
Titans v Raiders summary
The Titans will sweat on the fitness of both halves, with Ashley Taylor a late scratching and Tyrone Roberts departing inside the opening 15 minutes.
Half-back Taylor couldn’t overcome a nagging quadriceps complaint, while a ginger Roberts was helped off with a likely Achilles tendon injury.
That forced centre Tyrone Peachey into the halves to partner AJ Brimson, who was originally selected on the bench.
Titans v Raiders stats
Taylor is hopeful of returning next week and, while initial reports were that Roberts had not ruptured the tendon, the five-eighth could still face an extended stint on the sideline.
The cobbled-together pair was unable to probe too often though, with the Titans coughing up the ball seven times in the first half to stunt any momentum their solid defence had earned them.
Canberra slowly exploited that, with Jarrod Croker kicking two penalties for a 4-0 lead as the rain pelted down.
Titans v Raiders chalkboard
Sia Soliola was first to Josh Hodgson’s grubber on the stroke of half-time for a 10-0 lead.
Another Michael Gordon knock-on to start the second half — one of a combined 27 errors for the match — afforded the Raiders the platform for more points and Joey Leilua obliged on the right edge.
Brimson had a try disallowed before winger Bailey Simonsson scored on debut and an Aidan Sezer field goal sealed the win for Ricky Stuart’s men.
Raiders battering ram Josh Papalii relished the contest against Queensland Origin teammates Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow, while Englishman John Bateman impressed in his NRL debut.
Eels kick off with win over Panthers
An improved Parramatta have spoiled Ivan Cleary’s return to Penrith after staving off a late fightback to claim a controversial 20-12 boilover in their NRL opener.
The Panthers threatened to repeat last year’s famous round-one comeback when they whittled a 14-point deficit to be within two on Sunday.
But the Eels showed they will be made of sterner stuff this year to hold on for an impressive triumph against a side widely tipped to be a title contender.
The win came after Michael Jennings, whose sin-binning late in the contest sparked the Panthers revival, was awarded a dubious first-half try.
It also may have come at a cost, with key prop Nathan Brown suffering a suspected torn pectoral that could rule him out for up to three months.
Panthers v Eels summary
A resolute Eels defence had kept the home side scoreless for nearly an hour at Panthers Stadium, when the game turned on Jennings’ sin-binning.
The Eels centre denied a maiden NRL try for Maika Sivo when he knocked out Isaah Yeo with a swinging arm that ended with him being placed on report.
Wayde Egan went over for a try not long after, and the 12,604-strong crowd roared to life when James Tamou barged over soon after that.
However Jennings sealed the two points when he took a perfectly timed pass from debutant Dylan Brown in the closing moments.
Panthers v Eels stats
Mitchell Moses symbolised the Eels’ improved defence by producing two try-saving tackles in the space of a minute.
First the Eels’ chief playmaker stopped Reagan Campbell-Gillard close to the line, before preventing Waqa Blake from cleanly grounding the ball moments later.
There was plenty of anticipation entering the second Cleary era at Penrith, however the home side couldn’t have made a worse start.
Numerous mistakes and penalties deep in their own half resulted in the Eels enjoying a 22-4 first half advantage in plays inside the opposition 20-metre zone.
Panthers v Eels chalkboard
The visitors were also more adventurous with the ball, offloading seven times to one, an advantage that translated into a two-try lead at the break.
Marata Niukore took advantage of a Blake Ferguson tapback in the 15th minute, while Jennings was also awarded a controversial try.
The video referee gave the green light despite the Eels centre appearing to have juggled the ball into Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards before spinning over.
Penrith forward Hame Sele may have broken his forearm in his club debut.
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