A season-opening win has come at a huge cost for Canberra, with new star halves pairing Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer facing stints on the sideline with serious injuries.

Austin suffered medial ligament damage to his right knee and Sezer had a possible broken cheekbone or eyesocket yet still scored two tries on debut. The Panthers also lost hooker James Segeyaro to a broken forearm in his 100th game.

It soured what was a tight and often ugly affair played in 35-degree heat. The temperatures prompted the Panthers to order an extra 100kg of ice just before kick-off to help keep their players cool.

Dally M five-eighth of the year Austin had been named on the bench to ease his way back from major shoulder surgery last September but started the game after Sam Williams was a late scratching (virus). Skipper Jarrod Croker almost didn't play either with a similar sickness.


Austin scored a try, assisted in another and kicked a monster 70m-plus drop-out before being sidelined.

The Raiders looked to have control in the first half when leading 12-2 but went to the break leavel 16-16 thanks to tries to new Panthers recruits Trent Merrin and Peta Hiku.

The visitors took the lead when Austin scored only for Sezer to level with his second in the 55th minute and Shaun Fensom wrapped it up in the dying seconds with a try.

"This time last year we [would have] lost that one," said coach Ricky Stuart, who was jumping on the sidelines at the final whistle.