On a sunny and very warm afternoon at Pepper Stadium, the Panthers have notched up a gutsy 26-20 win over the Bulldogs to kick off the season.

As the crowds poured in to watch the Panthers’ first game of the season, our boys got on the front foot early, scoring first in the 8th minute after Ben Murdoch-Masila broke through the Bulldogs defense. Kieran Moss was backing up on his inside and dodged several Canterbury players to cross over after a 20 metre run to the line. The conversion from Will Smith was unsuccessful and the Panthers took a 4-0 lead.

Adam Docker was helped from the field straight from the restart after copping a big hit, but was cleared to return soon after.

Penrith furthered their lead in the 17th minute when Api Koroisau burrowed his way over the line to score from the play the ball. Smith converted to bring Penrith to a 10-0 lead.

The Bulldogs fired back in the 21st minute when their hooker passed to fullback Corey Thompson who dodged a couple of Panthers defenders to cross over the line. The conversion from Chase Stanley was successful and took the score to 10-6.

The Bulldogs backed that up in the 30th minute with Adam Elliot pushing his way past our defenders before slamming the ball down to level the score. Stanley converted the try and the Bulldogs were in front 12-10.

In the 39th minute Murdoch-Masila again broke the Bulldogs line and offloaded to Waqa Blake who ran away with the ball to the 20 metre line where he was tackled by Corey Thompson. In the next play Koroisau found the Penrith outside backs with a cross field chip kick and Will Smith dived over between two Bulldogs defenders to score. He was unable to convert his own try, but the Panthers took the lead once again 14-12 going into half-time.

HALF-TIME: 14-12 PANTHERS

We were only a minute into this half when Isaac John reached over to put the ball down after forcing his way past the Bulldogs goal line defense. Adrian Davis slotted over the conversion to strengthen the Panthers lead to 20-12.

A few minutes later Murdoch-Masila scored our next try, forcing his way through Bulldogs defenders and over the line to score. The conversion from Davis was successful and the Panthers stretched their lead 26-12.

Canterbury fired back in the 58th minute when Doggies winger Tyrone Phillips chased a kick, scooped the ball up and planted it down close to the touchline. Stanley missed the conversion this time and the score went to 26-16.

Dogs continued their fight back in the 73rd minute when Stanley shrugged past a few Penrith defenders to score. Jaline Graham took the kick and missed, narrowing the score to 26-20, and that was where it would finish up, sending the Penrith boys home with the win.

FULL TIME: 26-20 PANTHERSPenrith defeat strong Bulldogs outfit