The Bulldogs NYC side have this afternoon fallen agonisingly short against the Panthers, 30-26, at ANZ Stadium.
With the Panthers leading 30-10 with 10 minutes remaining, the young pups ran in four late tries but with none of those four-pointers being converted, the side fell short, 30-26.
There was just one change to Scott Murray’s side from the one named earlier in the week, with Piki Rogers being ruled out, Royce Hunt into the starting side and Peter Tiatia on to the bench.
It was the Panthers who received the first penalty of the match and they didn’t take long to turn it into points. Starting the set deep in Bulldogs territory, the young pups were able to hold on until the final tackle before a Dylan Edwards cross kick was put into the south-west corner. The ball was batted back before ending in the hands of Corey Waddell who went over to score untouched. Edwards took the conversion and was successful from out wide, giving the Panthers a 6-nil lead after seven minutes.
Five minutes later the Bulldogs earned possession after some strong defence forced a Panthers error. The set started just 20m out from the Panthers line and only a couple of tackles into the set, a swift backline movement was put on from right to left. A beautifully timed final pass from Josh Bergamin to winger Reimis Smith saw the NSW U18 representative go over to score in the north-east corner. Brad Keighran couldn’t convert from out wide with the Panthers holding on to a 6-4 lead.
A lucky piece of play brought about the young pups next try that ended up being scored by Guy Hamilton. A fifth tackle kick was put in down field a fantastic bounce of the ball saw a number of players jump for the ball but it was a blue and white hand that batted the ball back, with Hamilton grabbing it and going over to score under the posts. Keighran converted on this occasion to put the Bulldogs in front 10-6 after 25 minutes.
The Panthers answered back eight minutes before the half-time break through hooker Soni Luke. The tiny hooker won’t score an easier try after a simple dummy was thrown and with the defence fooled, he strolled across to score. Edwards easily converted from next to the uprights, putting the Panthers back into the lead 12-10.
Salt was rubbed into the wound with 90 seconds on the clock when fullback Brent Naden scored for the Panthers. A bomb was put up by Edwards and with it coming down in the in-goal with Naden winning the jump to the ball and coming down to score. Edwards again converted, giving the visitors an 18-10 lead at the half-time break.
After the break it was all the Panthers with two converted tries extending their lead out to 30-10. Tries through Cowen Epere and Naden, who scored his second of the night, and converted both.
What was to follow was a great charge to the finish by the young pups but unfortunately poor goal kicking left them short.
Reubenn Rennie crossed in the 71st minute before Marcelo Montoya went over for a quick double in the 74th and 76th minute. Harry Pondekas rounded out the charge in the 79th minute but with none of the tries converted, the young pups fell short 30-26.
PANTHERS 30 (Waddell, Luke, Naden 2, Epere Tries; Edwards 5 Goals)
BULLDOGS 26 (Smith, Hamilton, Rennie, Montoya 2, Pondekas Tries; Keighran 1 Goals)
At: ANZ Stadium