Digital Image by Robb Cox © nrlphotos.com: :NYC Holden Cup Rugby League - Round 3; Penrith Panthers Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Penrith. Saturday the 22nd of March 2014.

Panthers NYC have lost their third game in as many rounds, going down to a strong Bulldogs outfit 34-14.

It was a big match for our guys who had a lot to prove after coming up short in the first two rounds, and despite what it said on the scoreboard, our guys showed a lot of promise.

The Coach had made a few last minute changes to his side, bringing Akeripa Tia Kilifi onto the wing, and moving Corey Harawira to the bench, which allowed Logan Geyer, son of Panthers great Mark Geyer, to make his debut at fullback.

Looking back on our games in round 1 and 2, today’s performance was a huge improvement, with a lot of positives for Trent Barrett to build on in coming weeks. We completed our sets and our defence was incredible, withstanding continued pressure from an opposing team with size on their side. You couldn’t pick any stand out players from the Panthers line up as the whole team dug deep and gave 100% through the whole 80 minutes.

Here’s how the match played out.

Penrith kicked off under blue skies and warm conditions at Sportingbet Stadium, with drinks breaks half way through each half. The first 21 minutes remained scoreless with both teams hammering away equally as hard at their lines, but it was the Bulldogs who managed to break through first. After several attempts right in front of the posts, hooker Robbie Kamoto flicked a pass to big prop Brock Cope who dived forward and over the line. Brendan Cox converted and the visitors took an early 6-0 lead.

It wasn’t long before Penrith put their first points on the board through centre Waqa Blake. He took a brilliant offload from Bryce Cartwright, 10m out from our line, which put him straight into a gap and over the line. Cartwright’s kick was on target and the scores were level at 6-6.

The tries were coming thick and fast now, and the Bulldogs soon scored again when Shaun Lane made a break and took off down the field, running 50m before passing to his left on the 10m line. The ball was intercepted by a Panthers defender, but it bounced off him and back into the waiting arms of Lane, who ran into score. The conversion was good and the Bulldogs once again took the lead.

But it wasn’t long before Penrith had another one under their belt, this time through Brent Naden. He got the ball on the 20m line and dodged several Doggies defenders, before running the ball in. The kick was waved away, so the score went to 12-10, with 8 minutes until half time.

We went back to back 3 minutes later, when speedy winger Josh Jay caught a quick flick pass from Blake, and took off up the sideline to run in unopposed. Carty’s kick missed again, but the Panthers had the lead 14-12, for the first time in the match.

We almost bagged a hat trick when Brendan Attwood came agonisingly close to the line and stretched his arm out underneath a pack of Doggies defenders, but he was a few centimetres short.

Then, with a few seconds left on the clock, the Bulldogs were awarded  a penalty on their 20m line. They took the kick to level the scores at 14-14, just as the half time siren sounded.

HALF TIME: 14-14

The Bulldogs opened very strongly in the second half and had several early attempts at their line, before breaking through in the left corner in the 47th minute. Their winger Aaron Penn created some space along the sideline and barged his way over to take the lead once again. The tricky sideline conversion was on target, and the Doggies took a 20-14 lead.

They extended that even further in the 56th minute when their fullback Kyle Krisanski-Kennedy danced around a couple of Panthers defenders, jumping over one of them, to get the ball down again. The conversion was waved away so the score went to 24-14.

For the next 15 minutes, both sides attacked hard and came agonisingly close to scoring, but defence from everyone was outstanding, and no one could get through. That was until the clock hit the 70 minute mark and the Bulldogs extended their lead even further, bagging another try through winger Aaron Pene right near the corner post. The sideline conversion was good, and the visitors went to 30-14.

Pene bagged a hat trick with 3 minutes on the clock, again taking advantage of our tired defenders on the left side, simply running around them and over the line. The kick missed, so the Bulldogs took a 20 point lead to finish the match.

FULL TIME: 34-14 Bulldogs