Penrith Panthers have crushed the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 40-0 in the Harold Matthews clash at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
Wilson De Courcey and Jaxen Edgar both bagged doubles for Penrith, while fullback Riley Pollard added his flair to the game, setting up three of the Panthers' eight unanswered tries.
Pollard created an opportunity for his team in the opening minutes, putting pressure on Canterbury to cause a knock-on in their defensive 20 metres.
Making use of their perfect field position, Penrith centre De Courcey made something from nothing, taking on the defensive line to reach through and score. John-Paul Donevski’s kick was off-target, put the home side led by four.
Darting through the Bulldogs defence in the minutes that followed, Pollard broke two tackles before flicking a ball to interchange forward Judah Galuvao.
The Glenmore Park Brumbies junior would sprint to the line at full pace, making no mistake when it came to the putdown. Once again, the conversion attempt waved slightly left for Donevski, with the home side maintaining an 8-0 advantage.
As they’ve done all season, the Panthers spread the ball from right to left through the hands of a skilful De Courcey before finding David Afu who scored on the wing.
Another conversion for Penrith, this time off the boot of Pollard, fell to the left of the posts.
Offside on the restart, Canterbury handed possession back to the Panthers, who took the opportunity to extend their lead and ran with it, testing the Bulldogs defence.
A kick from De Courcey on the fifth tackle was played at by the Bulldogs, rewarding the Panthers with a repeat set on their line in the final minute.
Skipper Jenson Tuaoi looked up from dummy half and found no movement on either side of the field, as the Bulldogs stood still waiting for Penrith’s next move.
Tuaoi ran through the stagnant defensive line to put the Panthers 18 points ahead on the brink of half-time.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 18 - BULLDOGS 0
De Courcey was quick to secure a double in first few minutes of the second half, proving too strong for his opposing centre in a one-on-one challenge on the wing. Pollard failed to convert a difficult kick from touch, but the Panthers momentum continued to build.
A dominant run from Afu off the kick-off helped Penrith creep into their attacking half before Billy Thompson made use of a quick play the ball to break the Bulldogs line, offloading to Jaxen Edgar who sprinted away to score.
Pollard’s conversion attempt soared through the posts, taking the home side’s advantage to 28 unanswered points.
Reflecting their confidence in attack, Edgar claimed another four-pointer in the 47th minute after receiving a crisp pass from his halves partner off the bench, Kaydden Hoad.
A pin-point accurate conversion from Pollard increased the Panther’s lead to 34.
Continuing to apply pressure in attack, Penrith forced the Bulldogs to take the ball dead. A failed short drop-out attempt by Canterbury would give the Panthers one final opportunity to strike, and that’s exactly what they did.
Prop Tana Papu received a beautiful short ball from Hoad, crashing through the line to place the ball beside the posts.
The kick was too easy for Pollard, who sealed the Panthers efforts from in front.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 40 - BULLDOGS 0