The Bulldogs stole a last second win over Penrith in the cruellest of fashions with a last-minute conversion to Hazem El Masri handing the Bulldogs a 28-26 win at CUA Stadium on Saturday night.
But just whether the Bulldogs are awarded the two competition points remains to be seen, with footage indicating Canterbury may have had 14 players on the field in the dying stages.
Down 26-22 with just two minutes left in the match, the Bulldogs snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a 79th-minute converted try to five-eighth Ben Roberts.
With the Panthers needing simply to keep the Bulldogs out on one of their last possessions, Roberts received the ball on the left wing and sliced through the outnumbered defensive line to draw the visitors level.
El Masri then had the task of landing his conversion from 10 metres from the sideline, and the game’s leading point-scorer’s kick was never in doubt, curling in from right to left to crush the 16,000-strong home crowd.
Panthers skipper Trent Waterhouse looked to have handed his side victory when he scored his second four-pointer 12 minutes from time, and said the result was tough to take.
“That’s pretty shattering,” he said after the game.
“We played our guts out and didn’t deserve to get beaten like that.”
After falling behind 6-0 inside 10 minutes through a try to Brett Kimmorley, the Panthers scored three of the next four tries to take a 20-12 lead into the break.
But the Bulldogs came out firing after half-time to score two tries in 12 minutes to regain the lead, and Waterhouse said the break did Penrith no favours.
“Half-time was the worst thing that could have happened to us,” he said.
“We came out slow in the second half and they burned us with a couple of tries early which cost us.”
Former Broncos forward Greg Eastwood made a successful comeback to the NRL with a try and a hand in another, while young gun Jamal Idris bagged his third try of the season with a barnstorming finish in the 44th minute.
Bulldogs: 28 (B Kimmorley, D Stagg, J Idris, G Eastwood, B Roberts tries; H El Masri 4 conversions)
Panthers: 26 (T Waterhouse 2, P Aiton, B Tighe tries; M Gordon 4 conversions, penalty)