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Hanson, McLean doubles help Panthers down Bulldogs

Penrith Panthers overcame a half-time deficit to demolish the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 40-16 in the SG Ball competition at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.

Luke Hanson and Jesse McLean bagged doubles in Penrith’s stunning comeback, while Keagan-Russell Smith continued his perfect kicking form to help the Panthers to victory.  

Panthers hooker Ryley Smith snagged the first try in the second minute of the match off the back of some beautiful attacking play. Within 10 metres of the try-line, Smith was awarded a penalty, taking a quick tap to catch the Bulldogs outfit off-guard, crossing under the posts to score. Russell-Smith nailed his conversion attempt from in front to put the Panthers ahead by six.

The Bulldogs came hunting in the 18th minute, this time finding an overlap on the left edge to put Panthers winger Jesse McLean under pressure. But the youngster rose to the challenge, pushing his opposing winger into touch to deny the Bulldogs their first try of the game.

Lajuan Vito opened the Bulldogs' account nine minutes later, palming off two Panthers to cross in the corner. Jonathan Sua’s conversion sailed through the posts to draw the scores level.

The Panthers looked certain to score after absorbing the defensive pressure, but a knock-on on the put-down halted their hopes.

Wanting to increase their lead the Bulldogs targeted McLean again, this time with a high ball. Unfortunately for Penrith, the ball went straight through the younger winger’s hands and Sua was there to pick up the pieces, gaining possession of the ball leaping over the line. Unable to convert his own try, Sua had established a four-point lead for the Bulldogs.


The Bulldogs came out of the sheds firing, eager to extend their lead in the second half by establishing early defensive pressure.

As the defence continued to push Penrith back, a rushed pass was intercepted by Canterbury five-eighth Iverson Matai who sprinted 50 metres to add more points to the board.

Panthers fullback Liam Ison produced a dominant run downfield to put Aston Warwick over the line, but the referee deemed the second-rower held up and the Bulldogs had possession again.

In the 42nd minute, Ison would get his moment, capitalising off a gap in the Bulldogs defensive line to muscle his way over. Russell-Smith produced another perfect conversion to bring the Panthers within four.

Another valiant kicking effort from Russell-Smith gave his halves partner Luke Hanson a try-scoring opportunity, after the Bulldogs failed to catch a high ball on the fifth tackle.

Hanson pounced on the loose ball under the posts, while Russell-Smith added the extras to put the Panthers ahead again.

Once again it was Russell-Smith who provided the spark, gathering an intercept on the Panthers' try-line before flicking a pass to McLean who would run the full length of the field to score.

The kick from touch soared through the posts for Russell-Smith, extending the Penrith’s lead to eight.

Five minutes later McLean crossed in the corner again as the Panthers looked to punish the Bulldogs in the dying minutes of the game. Russell-Smith was unlucky not to get the conversion, with his kick waving slightly left.  

In the final 10 minutes of the game, the Panthers put Canterbury to the sword, with Russell-Smith burrowing his way through a crowd of Bulldogs to add an extra four points to the board. He failed to convert his own try as the ball bounced off the posts, but the Panthers were in hot form, ready to strike again.

Opting for a penalty kick after the Bulldogs stripped the ball with two men in the tackle, the Panthers gained another two points from in-front before Hanson sealed the victory with his second try of the match.

Kicking his fifth conversion of seven attempts, Russell Smith was eager to add extra points to the board to ensure his team maintained their top two position heading into the final round next week.


Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.