The ISP Bulldogs condemned the Panthers to a 28-22 loss at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
Despite a gallant effort by Penrith forwards, the home side was unable to come up with a late surge to stay in the game.
Penrith opened the scoring in the 5th minute with a Te Maire Martin cut-out pass that put Zac McKay over the line. Corey Harawira-Naera's conversion was waved away to leave the Panthers in front 4-0.
Canterbury responded in 13th minute, with Reuben Rennie setting up winger Tyrone Phillips to cross on the right. Craig Garvey slotted the conversion to put the visitors ahead 6-4.
Penrith's defence was again tested as Rennie continued to cause grief down the right flank. Despite strong tackling by Atonio Pelesasa, there was no stopping Marcelo Moytoya from plummeting over in the 17th minute. Garvey put the ball through the posts to extend the Bulldogs lead to 12-4.
Riding the momentum, Canterbury won consecutive sets to again pester deep into Panthers territory. Martin lost the ball in attempt to snatch back possession, leaving Lamar Liolevave to clean up the crumbs to sneak over in the 23rd minute. Garvey’s third successful conversion propelled the visitors up 18-4.
Penrith replied with a strong set and unpredictable passing allowed utility Moses Leota to obliterate past defenders to score in the 33rd minute. A successful Dockar-Clay conversion reduced Penrith’s deficit to eight points.
A persistent Bulldogs side would have bagged another four-pointer in the 36th minute if Asipeli Fine had not been held up in the knick of time.
The Panthers played a lightning set that had Martin fire another cut-out pass to Chris Aunese-Scanlon, who screamed over in the 39th minute. Dockar-Clay slotted the conversion as the siren sounded and Penrith hit the sheds trailing by 2.
Halftime BULLDOGS 18-16
Penrith made their intentions clear from the kick off, winning repeat sets that almost sent Martin and McKay over. In the end it was Harawira-Naera, in the 56th minute, who beat a handful of Bulldogs defenders to cross. A Dockar-Clay conversion finally pushed the Panthers back in front 22 - 18.
Bulldogs prop Makahesi Makatoa was sin binned just minutes later, and the visitors battled to fight back.
The 60th minute saw Pelesasa nearly put Harawira-Naera over for his second, but the home side was cruelly denied due to a double movement.
Canterbury retaliated in the 63rd minute, executing a quick piece that allowed Lloyd Perrett to barge his way over. Another successful conversion edged the visitors ahead 24-22.
Perrett burned Penrith defenders to charge over and claim a double in the 69th minute. Abbey’s conversion was waved away to leave the Bulldogs up 28-22.
Remaining minutes of the second half had play move from end to end. Forcing a drop-out in the 76th minute, Harawira-Naera and Aunese-Scanlon set the boys from Penrith up with an opportunity to level the score.
Last minute efforts by Watene-Zelezniak and Martin were unfortunately not enough, and the Bulldogs side held strong right up until the final whistle.
Fulltime BULLDOGS 28-22