After another solid round of football, fans of the Penrith Panthers expected a continuation of their ongoing unbeaten form and remained hopeful of another Isaah Yeo masterclass as he looked for yet another 3 point Dally M performance.
On the other side, Bulldogs fans tuned in with the hope of some promising signs after last week’s 44-0 thrashing at the hands of the Melbourne Storm.
Penrith proved too strong for the Bulldogs, cruising to a 32-12 victory.
Penrith’s first set was nothing out of the ordinary, a solid contribution from Liam Martin allowed the Panthers to get through without any issue.
Nathan Cleary’s first kick targeted Josh Addo-Carr, which seemed to be a strategy throughout the entire game, with the Addo-Carr being targeted in the air at the completion of almost every set.
The Bulldogs provided Penrith with a free ticket out of their own half on their second set, allowing the dangerous Panthers an early look at some points.
Matt Burton’s early defensive efforts were notable, which he’d continue for much of the first half.
Penrith’s attack looked switched on from the outset, appearing to open the scoring in the fourth minute through Izack Tago on the back of a Cleary kick and follow up to penetrate through the shaky Bulldogs right edge.
Things looked worrying for the Bulldogs on their right side, however, they were spared after the try was disallowed due to Tago’s boot scraping the touchline.
The sixth minute brought some promising signs for the Bulldogs, with Brent Naden, Jeremy Marshall-King, and Luke Thompson all laying some warning shots on the Penrith attack, showing they weren’t going to lay down.
The first of many Matt Dufty knock-ons came out of dummy half 35 meters out from his own defensive line.
The costly mistake eventuated in Penrith’s first points on the back of a smart play from Yeo which allowed Jarome Luai to make a perfect cut-out pass to Taylan May.
Cleary’s conversion was spot on to confirm an early 6-0 lead.
A simple mistake from Charlie Staines threw away a simple chance to score an untouched try, which allowed Burton to break away and run 50 metres before being contained.
Izack Tago was put on report for a high shot on Dufty which prompted a push and shove between the two teams.
Bulldogs fans could not have faulted the effort of their players to this point, and the penalty gifted them favorable field position.
The 16th minute saw a Penrith clinic, with May and Tago combining to run the length of the field and send Edwards cruising over the try line for a deserved 12-0 lead following the simple Cleary conversion.
A penalty not long after allowed the Panthers a 14-0 lead through a Cleary Penalty goal.
Burton was the star of the Bulldogs first half with multiple defensive efforts and a crafty 40/20 to allow the Bulldogs some field position.
The Bulldogs crossed over for their first try following two Luai knock on’s, the more important one on his own goal line which allowed Tevita Pangai Jnr to score the simplest try possible.
Kyle Flanagan’s extra’s saw the Bulldogs trail 14-6.
Cleary continued to star with a sharp pass to the safe hands of Yeo who just guided Martin to score under the posts. Cleary converted to lead 20-6.
The second half continued in a similar fashion, with Penrith crossing the line in the 44th minute through Spencer Leniu to give Penrith a 26-6 cushion, with a long 34 mins to play for the Bulldogs.
A bit of Bulldogs resistance saw a bit of left edge magic that prompted the speedy Addo-Carr to break free down the side of the ground and feed former Melbourne teammate Joe Stimson to an impressive try.
The points allowed the Bulldogs some consolation, trailing 26-12.
Dufty continued to have his struggles, dropping multiple regulation catches which ultimately put his side’s chances to bed, as he led the Bulldogs in their 16 errors.
The Panthers continued on with their ways with ten minutes to play when Matthew Eisenhuth assisted Mitch Kenny to score his first career try, to give the Panthers the eventual final scoreline of 32-12.
Some positives to take out for the Bulldogs, however, a long season appears to be ahead of them again.
For the Panthers, their unbeaten form continues as they solidify their spot as the team to beat in the 2022 season.
Bulldogs- T. Pangai Junior, J. Stimson.
Panthers- T. May, D. Edwards, L. Martin, S.Leniu, M.Kenny.
K. Flanagan 2/2
N. Cleary 5/5, Penalty goals 1/1.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Izack Tago (PEN)
2. Dylan Edwards (PEN)
1. Max King (CBY)