It was almost a comeback but not quite, as the Canterbury Bulldogs scored 18 straight points in the second half to take something away from the game, despite still losing by 6.
The first game in the newly christened Pepper Stadium saw the home side get off to a flying start that was cemented into the second, as they raced out to a 24-0 lead.
It was a nervous wait for the Panthers, as the Dogs scored three quick tries in 5 minutes to Tim Browne, Curtis Rona and Brett Morris, before just holding on.
The first 65 minutes belonged to the Panthers, as they showed their clinical nature, defensive resolve and willpower to power away.
Rugby league is a game of inches, though, and it took just one moment for the pendulum to swing in the Bulldogs favour, that being the try to Browne.
Ultimately, the win was some sweet revenge for the Panthers, who were knocked out by the Bulldogs in last years NRL finals.
Although they won, the drastic change in momentum towards the Bulldogs had Panthers coach Ivan Cleary worried and he knows his side has to improve.
“The reality is in today’s game if you lose momentum… they had nothing to lose. When you’re playing the Bulldogs when they’ve got nothing to lose, there’s not too many teams more dangerous,” Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said.
“Big side coming off the bench, everything seemed to be going their way at the time. My issue is I guess allowing that momentum to change in the first place. But, we’ll move on and hopefully learn from the experience without having to lose.”
The start of the game saw the Bulldogs as their own worst enemy, unable to put together flowing plays and performing poorly as a unit.
It was an area that Dogs coach Des Hasler highlighted and one he knows has to improve.
“I thought the first half we probably tended to shoot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said.
“Penrith didn’t have to do much to get down the field. I think at one stage the possession we had about 35 per cent and our attitude with the ball was poor.”
Player of the Game:
3. James Segeyaro
2. James Graham
1. George Jennings
Penrith 24 (Watene-Zelezniak 2, Jennings, Segeyaro tries; Soward 4 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown 18 (Browne, Rona, B. Morris tries; Hodkinson 3 goals). On report: Josh Jackson (unnecessary pressure on neck, 11th min). Crowd: 18,814. Half-time: Penrith 14-0.