Just when the Bulldogs seemed destined for the wooden spoon, they go out and upset the finals-bound Rabbitohs.
Last week's convincing win brought them level on six points with the Broncos and provided added incentive to give it everything they've got on Saturday afternoon against the red-hot Panthers.
Penrith clinched their first minor premiership in 17 years with last week's convincing road win over the Cowboys and look ready, willing and able to challenge the Roosters and Storm for top dog status.
Coach Ivan Cleary might take the option of resting some of his stars before the finals, but the Panthers have shown all year they have the depth to cover virtually every position on the field.
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 20 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Bulldogs: Aiden Tolman picked up a calf injury in the warm-up and was a late scratching for what would be his final game for the Bulldogs. Sauaso Sue starts with Dean Britt joining the bench.
Halfback Lachlan Lewis, who suffered a head knock last week, has been omitted from the side 24 hours from kick-off. Centre Tim Lafai failed in his bid to escape suspension for a high tackle, opening the door for Kerrod Holland to come into the side in his final game before retirement.
Jack Cogger has been promoted from the reserves to partner Brandon Wakeham in the halves with Jake Averillo also out. Tui Katoa is the fresh face on the interchange.
James Roumanos dropped off the extended bench on game day. The Bulldogs are aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time in 2020.
Panthers: Dylan Edwards, Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton have been rested for the final round. Daine Laurie will play fullback, Tyrone May centre and Kurt Capewell second row.
James Tamou has returned at prop and Api Koroisau at hooker following their one-week breaks. Moses Leota has dropped to the bench and Mitch Kenny to the reserves. Matt Burton and Zane Tetevano earned call-ups on the interchange with Jack Hetherington dropping out.
Hetherington and Billy Burns were officially omitted from the 21-man squad when it was cut to 19 on Friday. The Panthers are aiming for a 15th consecutive victory.
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will HopoateFullback for Panthers is number 1 Daine Laurie
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Panthers is number 2 Josh Mansour
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Reimis SmithCentre for Panthers is number 3 Tyrone May
Centre for Bulldogs is number 23 Kerrod HollandCentre for Panthers is number 4 Brent Naden
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Jayden OkunborWinger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 20 Jack CoggerFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 14 Brandon WakehamHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Luke ThompsonProp for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-KingHooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Bulldogs is number 17 Sauaso SueProp for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Chris Smith2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Kurt Capewell
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Josh JacksonLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf To'omagaInterchange for Panthers is number 14 Matt Burton
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Sione KatoaInterchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 19 Dean BrittInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 21 Tuipulotu KatoaInterchange for Panthers is number 17 Zane Tetevano
- Referee: Henry Perenara
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Touch Judge: Gavin Badger
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Raymond Faitala-Mariner v Viliame Kikau: Faitala-Mariner has shown flashes of his potential at various stages of his six-year career (five with the Dogs) and can be a nightmare on the left edge for opposing defences when he's in the mood.
He is up against one of the most damaging left-edge runners in the world on Saturday and needs to bring his A-game.
This is the last chance for rivals to cut the Panthers down to size before the finals. That might seem like a long shot considering their respective positions on the ladder, but the Bulldogs caused a shock when they claimed Penrith's scalp in their only meeting last year, turning an 8-6 half-time deficit into a 16-8 triumph. Scoring tries for the Dogs were Reimis Smith, Nick Meaney and Jack Cogger.