The NYC Panthers have moved to the summit of the Holden Cup ladder courtesy of a clinical 28-12 victory over the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground.
Captain Wayde Egan continued his rich vein of form in recent weeks by grabbing a double, while winger Jamon Wormleaton also crossed over twice as the Panthers bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to the Knights last week.
Egan got his side on the front foot early in the game, crossing over for the first points in the 9th minute. The hooker caught the Bulldogs defence short on the right edge and poked his way through the line to score in the corner. Dean Blore’s conversion sailed wide to remain 4-0.
The Panthers extended their lead in the 15th minute off the back of consecutive penalties carrying them up field. Liam Martin received the ball in midfield and sold a dummy, opening a gap in the Bulldogs line to charge through and score. Blore’s successful conversion pushed the score out to 10-0.
A string of penalties of their own allowed the Bulldogs to strike back in the 27th minute through Tui Katoa. Halfback Brandon Wakeham worked the ball right to Morgan Harper who created an overlap and found Katoa out wide. Wakeham nailed the kick from the sideline to bring it back to 10-6.
Their joy was to be short-lived as an error from the restart gifted possession to the Panthers, which they would capitalise on. Sam Martin-Savage delivered a perfect cut-out pass for Mose Feilo to find his winger Wormleaton in space for the simple put down. Blore sunk the conversion from the sideline to make it 16-6.
Wormleaton had his second on the stroke of half-time after yet more excellent work from Feilo. The centre was poleaxed mid-air but regrouped to get on his feet and find his winger in open space in the corner. Blore slotted the extras to hand his side a 16 point lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 – Penrith Panthers 22
The Panthers went closest to scoring early in the second period when Wormleaton fumbled a Blore kick on the try line, before Caleb Aekins was put in the clear by Egan but his offload was adjudged to have floated forward.
Instead it would be the Bulldogs who struck first after the restart when Jayden Okunbor ran through a gaping hole in the Panthers defence on the 55 minute mark to bring his side back in to the contest. Wakeham added the extras to make it 22-12.
The Bulldogs would enjoy the lion’s share of possession and territory for much of the second half but were up against a resilient Panthers outfit desperate to hang on to their lead, which they would add to just shy of full-time.
Egan punished a retreating Bulldogs defence close to their own line, crossing over for his second and sealing the win with five minutes left on the clock. Blore knocked over the conversion as the Panthers ran out comfortable 16 point winners.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 – 28 Penrith Panthers