The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs prevailed 24-12 in an end-to-end 80 minutes of football showcasing strong defence and a well-oiled attack.
Triumphant Blues Josh Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer were all passed fit to back up from Wednesday’s Origin while Trent Hodkinson and Brett Morris were rested. Shaun Lane, after a strong showing on debut last week, was recalled to the bench.
Bulldog players wore a commemorative alternative strip with all jerseys to be auctioned and the proceeds going to Bulldogs in the Community program.
It was a beautifully executed play that opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the 9th minute with a backline movement giving Josh Morris room to slice through before Morris gave Sam Perrett a 20m stroll to the line untouched. Moses Mbye added the extras from in front for 6-0.
A one-on-one strip from Greg Eastwood in the 13th minute saw Bulldogs start a set camped right on Panther’s line and a couple of tackles later Curtis Rona extended the lead via a spectacular put down. It was Rona's 16th of the season. Mbye nailed the conversion from the sideline for 12-0.
A break from Elijah Taylor in the 19th minute looked promising for Penrith and the video referee was called in for a possible penalty try with Josh Reynolds bringing down Jamie Soward. It was a red light on the try front but Reynolds found himself in the sin bin for a professional foul. In the subsequent set of six a one-on-one steal from Tim Lafai released the pressure.
It was a fast-paced and fiery opening to the match and tempers boiled over again in the 22nd minute with Josh Jackson and Greg Eastwood placed on report for their role in a dangerous throw on Soward.
A courageous defensive period saw Reynolds return to the field with the score still 12-0.
Bryce Cartwright got Panthers on the board in the 32nd minute courtesy of a piece of individual brilliance with the back rower chipping ahead and regathering. Soward converted for 12-6.
There was a field goal attempt from Reynolds as the siren sounded for half time but it was waved away to the right.
An opportunistic play from Perrett in the 47th minute, with the fullback burrowing over near the line from dummy half on the back of a strong Jackson charge, was the first scoring play of the second forty. Mbye struck the conversion sweetly to push the lead out to 18-6.
Reynolds produced his own brilliant solo try in the 51st minute toeing through his own grubber to score under the posts. Mbye added the extras for 24-6. There were a few excellent touches from 20-year-old Lane in the lead-up which bodes well for the future.
Penrith looked to have struck back in the 56th minute through Waqa Blake but the winger was ruled to have gone out before planting the ball down in the corner. It was excellent cover from Corey Thompson.
Josh Morris grassed a certain try in the 68th minute having chased through a perfectly placed grubber from Mbye.
Waqa again made a bee line for the corner in the 70th minute but it was the same result, with Thompson hauling him down and over the sideline.
In another close call, Sam Kasiano looked as though he had steamrolled his way over in typical Sammy fashion, in the 73rd minute, but lost control of the ball over the line.
There was no denying Cartwright in the 75th minute as he collected his second of the night under the posts. Soward converted for 24-12.
And that was all she wrote with Bulldogs winning by 12 and climbing their back towards the top eight.
Next Monday is the anticipated return to Belmore Sports Ground with Bulldogs hosting Melbourne Storm. Kick-off 7pm local time. Check the site for further details!
BULLDOGS 24 (Perrett 2, Rona, Reynolds Tries; Mbye 4 Goals) def. PENRITH 12 (Cartwright 2 Tries; Soward 2 Goals)
At: ANZ Stadium