Making your debut is hard enough but when the game is on the line and up for grabs with your single conversion, the pressure would be telling. Kerrod Holland had the outcome of the game in his hands with the scores locked at 16-all, as he lined up the winning conversion. He made no mistake and gifted the Bulldogs an 18-16 come-from-behind win.
It was almost a carbon copy to the a previous clash between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Penrith Panthers, when Matt Moylan slotted a conversion to help the Panthers win back in 2014.
Penrith dominated early as Jamie Soward turned back the clock and put on a great display of kicking and control, to have the Panthers running over the top of the Bulldogs outfit.
Frustration got the better of the Bulldogs after captain James Graham was put on report for a shoulder charge.
Despite what the Bulldogs threw at the Panthers defence early on, they were either let down by silly errors or by poor last-tackle options.
It was not made easier for the Bulldogs when Aiden Tolman left the field after just 17 minutes and did not return having failed a concussion test.
The game could have been very different had the Panthers been awarded a try to Josh Mansour but it was deemed that he was offside after the ball ricocheted off Peta Hiku’s head.
Still trailing as the game wore on, the Bulldogs fought hard and gave it their all as the Panthers repelled their attacks.
But, luck was on their side, and Moses Mbye capped off a man of the match performance with his 2nd try of the night – as he sliced through the defence to score.
That is where Kerrod Holland stepped up and slotted the conversion to give the Bulldogs the win at Pepper Stadium.
Holland was full of confidence having kicked the conversion and knew it was in from the moment he hit it.
“It was always going over, I knew straight away” he said.
“I knew we had it won, as soon as he [Moses Mbye] went over, all the confidence in the world.”
He drew praise from captain James Graham as well.
“What a debut for him. I had all the belief in the world in him to slot it over, and I think it meant a lot to him. I’m very proud of him,” Graham said.
Despite the heart-breaking loss, Panthers coach Anthony Griffin was pleased with how his side performed for the entire game.
“I was impressed with the whole 80 minutes, the way we’re building performances,” Griffin said.
“Obviously as a team it’s heartbreaking. But as a team, we’re getting a bit better every week. We’re learning the lessons we need to learn. I can’t rap us enough for our effort and the way we’re going about things.”
Momentum is the key for Des Hasler and whilst he is pleased to have two wins on the trot to start the season, he knows that the local derby against Parramatta next week will not be an easy clash.
“It’s a good start for us to get consecutive wins,” the Canterbury coach said.
“I think we go home for the first time next week. I think it’s a local derby against Parramatta. They were particularly impressive even though they had a loss last week. It’ll be another big one next Friday.”
Player of the Game:
3. Moses Mbye
2. Sam McKendry
1. James Graham
Bulldogs 18 (Moses Mbye 2, Will Hopoate tries; Kerrod Holland 2, Moses Mbye goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 16 (Peta Hiku, Sam McKendry; Soward 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Penalties: 8-8. Half-time: Panthers 14-6. Crowd: 11,125. On report: James Graham (Bulldogs)