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Panthers ease past improved Bulldogs to remain unbeaten

An improved Bulldogs outfit was outclassed by the premiers in a 32-12 result at CommBank Stadium on Sunday night. 

Canterbury were far better than in their hapless 44-0 loss to the Storm a week earlier but made life hard for themselves with some schoolboy errors and Penrith took advantage to keep their unbeaten start to 2022 alive. 

When Izack Tago was tackled into touch in the fourth minute the Bulldogs' defence got a lift but it didn't last long as Taylan May crossed for his sixth try in three games thanks to a lovely Jarome Luai cut-out. 

May and Tago combined for a length-of-the-field try finished off by Dylan Edwards straight after and a Nathan Cleary penalty goal made it 14-0.

Martin gets on the scoresheet

Tevita Pangai jnr got the Bulldogs on the board when Jarome Luai failed to defuse a kick and the ex-Panther pounced on the scraps. 

That shaped as the half-time score until a flurry of late Bulldogs errors invited the Panthers to extend their lead with Isaah Yeo sending Liam Martin through a yawning gap shortly before the break.

Spencer Leniu crashed over straight after the resumption for an imposing 26-6 lead but Joe Stimson finished off a long-range movement started by Josh Addo-Carr to keep the Dogs in the hunt with just over 15 minutes to play. 

But again the Bulldogs invited the Panthers to attack with some poor errors and Mitch Kenny was the beneficiary with his first career try as Penrith closed out the win. 

Match snapshot

  • Penrith's ridiculous production line of outside backs was on full display; with Brent Naden and Matt Burton having departed and Brian To'o injured, rookie duo Izack Tago and Taylan May combined for a try, try assist, over 250 metres, eight busts and three offloads. 
  • The recalled Kyle Flanagan had a positive impact in his return to first grade; there's still plenty to work on but he took some pressure off Matt Burton, took over goal-kicking duties and slotted in well. 
  • Bulldogs fullback Matt Dufty will be having nightmares about floating torpedo bombs for a while, with Cleary's monster boot helping force four errors from the ex-Dragon. 
  • Bulldogs wrecking ball Tevita Pangai jnr continues to build into the season, producing his first 80-minute game of the year. 

The Foxx sets up the try

  • Izack Tago was placed on report for high contact on Matt Dufty in the 12th minute. 
  • Burton was placed on report for a chicken wing tackle on former teammate Liam Martin on the stroke of half time. 

Play of the game

Leading 6-0 after 16 minutes, the Panthers produced a highlight reel special as a powerful Taylan May kick-return provided space for Izack Tago to go on a long run with the rookie centre evading several defenders before finally producing a flick pass Benji Marshall would have been proud of for Dylan Edwards to score. 

What a try

What they said

"It was a bit of a weird game; at times it felt like we were on top then they'd come back firing. I do think the Bulldogs have come a long way compared to the last few years and it's always a tough battle." - Panthers co-captain Nathan Cleary. 

"The most glaring thing was our own errors coming out of our own half. I think we had eight on play ones and play twos ... they don't errors and you have to earn everything against them and we gifted them too much field position and in the end, as brave as you can be, it wears you down." - Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett. 

What's next

The Panthers will be aiming for a 6-0 start to the year when they host the struggling Broncos next Friday night.

The Bulldogs take part in the annual Good Friday clash against the Rabbitohs, a match which never fails to bring the drama, at Accor Stadium at 4pm on Friday. 

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.