In front of a very vocal and enthusiastic crowd of 18,814 fans at Pepper Stadium, the Panthers have avenged last year’s Grand Final Qualifier loss with a 24-18 win over the Bulldogs this afternoon!
The game started with some fierce opening sets from both teams who were clearly out to make a point and stamp their authority on the match. Penrith’s defence was outstanding and we managed to keep the Dogs scoreless for 70 minutes of the game. But things got a little nerve wracking in the final 10 minutes of the game when our defence fell apart and the Doggies finally kicked into gear.
A late comeback saw Canterbury pile on three tries in 8 minutes, but for the most part everything went right for Ivan Cleary’s men.
In the 11th minute of play, George Jennings was the victim of a crusher tackle 30m out from our line. The penalty that followed gave Dallin Watene-Zelezniak our first try of the day! James Segeyaro collected the ball from dummy half and sent it left to Pete Wallace who flicked it to Matt Moylan, who batted the ball to Dean Whare, who offloaded to DWZ on the wing, and he dived over the line just inside the corner post! Jamie Soward added another two with a precision kick from the sideline, and the home side took a 6-0 lead.
For the next 20 minutes the ball bounced around the middle of the field and rarely got close to either end. It was the Panthers who eventually broke the stalemate with a try on debut to George Jennings!
In the 28th minute we were awarded a penalty on our 20m line and after a few tackles James Segeyaro picked the ball up from dummy half, passed it to Jeremy Latimore who sent it straight back to Chicko, who offloaded to Soward, who then sent a massive cut out pass to Jennings, who was unmarked on the wing, and he sprinted 15m to dive over the line! Soward’s boot sent the ball straight through the uprights again, giving Penrith a 12-0 lead.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the half, the Panthers were awarded a penalty 20m out from our line after Moylan was tackled after he’d passed the ball. Soward took the kick for two to extend Penrith’s lead to 14-0.
HALF TIME: 14-0 Panthers
The Panthers kicked this half off in spectacular style with a try to Segeyaro in the 41st minute! In Penrith’s first set, Chicko collected the ball from dummy half and passed to Bryce Cartwright who offloaded straight back to him, and he ran straight through the Bulldogs defence and dived over in the corner to score. Sowie made it three from three conversions to put the Mountain Men ahead 20-0.
In the 51st minute of the match, DWZ bagged his second try of the day after waiting patiently on the wing for Soward’s kick on the 6th, and after rolling out of a Bulldogs tackle attempt and running over the top of another defender he dived for the line and got the ball down. The kick was waved away this time, so the score went to 24-0.
With 11 minutes left on the clock the Bulldogs scored their first try when Tim Brown was on the receiving end of a horizontal pass 10m out from his line, and he ran in behind the posts to score. Despite appeals to the ref that it was a forward pass, the try was awarded. The kick from in front took the score to 24-6.
It was at this point that Penrith’s defence began to fall apart, and the Bulldogs finally kicked into gear.
Canterbury backed up their first try a couple of minutes later when Curtis Rona was left unmarked on the wing and was able to catch a 15m cut out pass before running the ball over the line. The conversion took the score to 24-12.
With 3 minutes remaining the Dogs piled on their third try courtesy of a Josh Morris line break just past halfway. He busted through three tackles before diving over the line behind the posts. The kick narrowed the score to 24-18.
Despite several desperate attempts by the Dogs to put more points on the board in the dying minutes of the match, Penrith managed to hang on for the win.
FULL TIME: 24-18 Panthers