Defending ISP NSW Premiers, the Panthers, sent a warning to the rest of the competition in their final hit-out before the season proper with a 46-4 dismantling of the Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground.
Wayde Egan was the star of the show with an inspired individual performance that included two tries and playing a key role in another to lead the Panthers to a blow out victory.
The visitors set the tone for the match in the fifth minute when fleet-footed halfback Jarome Luai found Jack Hetherington in support to burst through the Bulldogs defence and score. Adam Keighran’s attempted conversion faded left to remain 4-0.
Bullocking prop Nick Lui-Toso doubled their tally in the 10th minute when he used all of his strength to brush off a handful of defenders and crash over next to the uprights, allowing Keighran a straight-forward conversion to make it 10-0.
Sione Katoa bagged their next try on the 30 minute mark when his grubber struck the padding and fell invitingly for him to scoop the rebound and score beneath the crossbar. Keighran knocked over the conversion to lead 16-0.
A trademark dart from dummy half by Egan caught the Bulldogs off-guard for the hooker to dive over for their fourth try of the half after 35 minutes. Keighran’s sideline conversion never looked like missing as the Panthers held a 22-0 lead going in to the break.
HALFTIME – Panthers 22-0 Bulldogs
The Panthers immediately picked up where they left off when Egan again split the Bulldogs defence to find Liam Martin in support before linking with Liam Coleman who streaked away to score. Chad O’Donnell took over kicking duties and slotted it to make it 28-0.
Egan was proving to be too much for the Bulldogs to handle and he once again got the better of their defence in the 48th minute when he swivelled over the try line for his second of the game. O’Donnell again converted to push the score out to 34-0.
The home side finally troubled the scorers when they crossed over out wide just shy of the hour mark, but couldn’t convert to trail 34-4.
But the Panthers weren’t about take their foot off the gas as Ratu Tuisese burst through the line and scored a long-range solo effort in the 61st minute to take the score out to 40-4 following O’Donnell’s conversion.
Hetherington bagged his second try in the 69th minute after running on to a short ball from Soni Luke and exploding clear of the defence to score under the black dot. O'Donell's fourth conversion made it 46-4 and wrapped up a convincing victory.
FULLTIME - Panthers 46-4 Bulldogs