Penrith's 26-6 triumph against Canberra has been overshadowed by the ongoing feud between the rival clubs, with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart labelling Panther half Jaeman Salmon a "weak gutter dog".
It followed a controversial second-half incident where Salmon appeared to kick Raiders hooker Tom Starling in the groin and the face while being tackled, one of a number of reports from another fiery clash.
Panthers forward James Fisher-Harris was sin-binned for a high-shot on Canberra's Ryan Sutton that ended his night with a failed HIA, while Raiders winger Nick Cotric served 10 minutes in the bin for a similar hit on Dylan Edwards.
But Stuart had his sights set on Salmon, telling media he didn't think the contact was accidental.
"I've had history with that kid, I know that kid very well," he told reporters.
"He was a weak gutter dog as a kid, and he hasn't changed now, he's a weak gutter dog person now.
"Fisher-Harris ... they're accidents and in this collision game, I understand it.
"Where Salmon kicked Tommy, it ain't on."
Those comments were put to a bemused Penrith coach Ivan Cleary, who said he didn't believe Salmon would have deliberately tried to kick Starling.
"I don't think I need to respond to those comments," he told reporters.
"I know what Jaeman is like, he's valuable in our club and we love him and that's all that matters to us."
But the loss also came with a hefty price for the Raiders, losing star prop Joe Tapine, who didn't return in the second stanza following a first-half rib injury.
His side badly missed him, conceding 26 straight points after Josh Papalii had scored the game's opening try.
The club had no update on the severity of Tapine's injury immediately following the match.
Penrith, playing without their star halves pairing of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai along with second-rower Villiame Kikau, survived an injury scare of their own with fullback Edwards, playing his 100th NRL game, pushing through pain to put in a clinical display.
Edwards, who had earlier looked ginger after being drilled by Jordan Rapana, responded perfectly with a try on 54 minutes, breaking Canberra's spirit and capping his 155m, six-tackle bust display.
And he got plenty of help, particularly through back-up playmaker Sean O'Sullivan, covering Cleary in immaculate fashion with a stunning three-try assists and some kicking excellence.
"Seany's had a great year for us, he's been exactly what we needed," Cleary said.
"It's been good for him and good for us; it's sort of catapulted his career, when Nathan's been out he's been able to do the job.
"The boys have got confidence in him and we're gonna keep backing him to step up."
Five-eighth Salmon scored a crafty try in the second half to complete the rout, while centre Stephen Crichton had earlier marked his return from his sickening ear injury to cross.
The result is a crushing blow to Canberra's finals hopes because they now sit a game back from the eight-placed Sydney Roosters, although all four of their remaining matches are against bottom-eight teams.
"I'm not walking away from that downhearted, because there was so much effort the boys put in," Stuart said.
"We're in survival mode and that's how we're going to play and we're not going to let that result tonight stem the way we've been preparing and getting around each other."
Australian Associated Press
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