Penrith Panthers hold off the Canberra Raiders
Exciting young winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has scored two tries on debut to help Penrith to a hard-fought 12-6 NRL win over Canberra Raiders at a rain-hit Sportingbet Stadium in Sydney.
The 18-year-old Penrith junior secured victory with his second try in the 72nd minute on Saturday night to give the Panthers their third win of the season.
The match was played on a heavy track that would have even left Golden Slipper winner Mossfun struggling for speed in the torrential conditions.
Both teams struggled to control the ball due to the wet conditions, leaving the game in the balance until after the full-time siren in front of a crowd of 7667.
The Panthers took an 8-0 lead into halftime through tries to wingers Watene-Zelezniak and Josh Mansour.
Watene-Zelezniak had a try disallowed in the 11th minute off a crossfield kick from five-eighth Jamie Soward before crossing the line five minutes later after good work by centre Jamal Idris.
Mansour crossed a just before the break from a superb cut-out pass by Soward for an 8-0 advantage.
The Raiders opened their account in the 55th minute when forward Paul Vaughan dived over the line after smart support play by five-eighth Jack Wighton and fullback Anthony Milford and with Jarrod Croker’s successful conversion, the visitors were down 8-6 and poised to steal victory.
But a crossfield bomb from Scotland international halfback Peter Wallace found an unmarked Watene-Zelezniak, who touched down with eight minutes remaining to earn a handy 12-6 buffer.
The Raiders threw plenty at Penrith inside the final two minutes but the Panthers’ defence held firm.
Idris then gave coach Ivan Cleary and the faithful Penrith supporters a huge scare when he offloaded a pass from an intercept break as the siren sounded.
The Raiders spread the ball before a kick found Penrith lock Adam Docker.
Penrith Panthers 12 (D Watene-Zelezniak 2 J Mansour tries) Canberra Raiders 6 (P Vaughan try J Croker goal) at Sportingbet Stadium. Referee: Chris James, Adam Devcich. Crowd: 7667