The Penrith Panthers have defeated the Canterbury Bulldogs in front of 11,832 people at ANZ Stadium by 22-16 in a scrappy affair. The win allows the Panthers to consolidate their position in the top four.
It seems that all rugby league supporters, except those of their club have been death riding the Panthers in 2014. Yet, they have proven their fortitude repeatedly by winning many matches against the odds as they have succeeded in doing again tonight in a scrappy affair over the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
Both sides were looking to consolidate their position in the top four and it was the Panthers who had the better of the first half. The players went into the sheds with the men from the West ahead 6-0 courtesy of a try to James Segeyaro in the 9th minute.
Canterbury may have been hard done by with a couple of contentious decisions by the video referees going against them in front of their vocal and frustrated fans. The biggest of these was a decision to deny Canterbury centre Tim Lafai by ruling there was separation with the ball. This came after Referee Matt Checcin referred the decision upstairs by signalling a try.
The Panthers, with their inspirational skipper Peter Wallace sidelined for the rest of the season were expected to falter but the return of NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds from suspension for the Bulldogs failed to make an impact for the boys from Belmore.
Ivan Cleary's men came out all guns blazing in the second half and shot out to an unassailable 22-0 lead through tries to Segeyaro - his second, winger Josh Mansour and fullback Matt Moylan. The Dogs scored a few late tries through Tim Lafai, Trent Hodkinson and Sam Kasiano, however, the damage had already been done.
On a sour note the already injury riddled Panthers lost both Elijah Taylor, with an ACL tear in his left knee and Bryce Cartwright also with a leg injury during the match. Early reports suggest Taylor has played his final game for the season.
The Panthers were led brilliantly around the field by Jamie Soward and the explosive play out of dummy half by Segeyaro allowed Penrith plenty of latitude. For the Bulldogs, Josh Jackson and Tim Lafai tried their hardest and were the pick of the Canterbury players.
The win gives the Panthers a faint glimmer of hope they can finish on top of the table while the Bulldogs could slip to as low as 6th by the end of the round. Des Hasler faces a big task in putting a halt to his teams losing streak which has now stretched to three matches.