In trying difficult conditions at Belmore Sports Ground, the Bulldogs Harold Matthews side took on one of the competition heavyweights, the Penrith Panthers.
The Bulldogs under 16-side headed into the clash with one win and a loss under their belts.
Their fourth round match against the Panthers didn’t start well, when Taylan May and Bailey Wyatt crossed for the visitors in the opening ten minutes to take an early 10-0 lead.
The home side hit back in the 16th minute through Keanan Abbey in the corner. The try was converted by Gian-Mario Serrator, but in the lead up to the try, the Bulldogs lost fullback Kurt Picken with a game ending knee injury.
Ten minutes out from half time the Bulldogs suffered another setback, when lock forward Will Saunders was ruled out for the remainder of the game with concussion.
Down to 15 men, the blue and whites battled away for the rest of the half, but were unable to stop the Panthers from scoring their third try of the match on the stroke of half time through winger Orville Finau. The conversion was waved away and the Dogs trailed 14-4 at the break.
The young Bulldog players came out spirited in the second half, but within the first 10 minutes, lost hooker Issam Merhi with a broken hand and five-eighth Billy Hamwi to a head knock leaving him out cold on the field requiring stiches to his chin.
The Bulldogs were down to 13 men and against the run of play the young pups managed to score a try out wide through winger Jazzaiah Schaafhausen and the margin was reduced to six points.
In a sickening collision, young front rower Brandon Pelo took the ball up on a routine charge and suffered a compound fracture of the lower leg, leaving many of his team mates and opposition players distraught at what they saw.
The Bulldogs were down to 12 players and with seven minutes remaining on the clock, the ground wet and miserable, the Panthers took what looked like a match winning lead when half back Sadee Sub Laban crossed to give the visitors a 20-8 lead.
With five minutes remaining, the Bulldogs forced a turnover from the kick off and in the space of three minutes, scored two converted tries through Christopher Patolo and Jackson Topine, to earn a 20 all draw.
With four of their teammates on the sideline injured and unable to take part in the game, as well as a fifth player lying in the medical room with a busted leg, the Bulldogs Harold Matthews side in the face of adversity, showed true fighting spirit to pick themselves up and show what this club is about.
The team will rally together and do it all again this week when they board a bus to Wyong this Saturday.
Bulldogs 20 (Keanan ABBEY, Jazzaiah SCHAAFHAUSEN, Christopher PATOLO, Jackson TOPINE tries: Gian-Mario SERRATORE 2/4) Panthers 20 (Taylan MAY, Bailey WYATT, Orville FINAU, Sadee SUB LABAN tries: Hohepa PURU 2/4)