The former Canberra star Adrian Purtell scored the clincher as Penrith withstood a spirited second half fightback from the Raiders to start their NRL season with a 34-16 victory at CUA Stadium.
The Panthers should have had the match in the bag after they led 22-nil at halftime but the Raiders threatened to turn the tables with the first three tries of the second half to trail 22-16 after 58 minutes.
But ex-Raider Purtell, released from a long-term deal at Canberra to join the Panthers this year, intercepted a Terry Campese pass and ran the length of the field to make the score 26-16.
Purtell might have doubled the blow but was controversially disallowed a second four-pointer in the 71st minute, judged to have been held up after video angles proved inconclusive.
The Panthers fullback Lachlan Coote added to the visitors' misery and the joy of the crowd of 11,133, with a classy 75th minute try.
The home side scored four tries in the first 40, through Elford, Luke Lewis, Kingston and Coote to hand the Raiders a massive task for the second half.