The Bulldogs haven’t won at the foot of the mountains since 2012. Two games since then against the Panthers have both had nail-biting finishes, a goal from the sideline after the siren from Matt Moylan sinking Canterbury in 2014 and a Bulldogs comeback muted by a 50/50 call on a forward pass in the opening round of last year: but can the Mountain Men bring their A-Game with Moylan, as well as energetic rake James Segeyaro both on the sideline?
LAST TIME OUT
Canterbury opened with a flier, pummelling a new look Manly side in to submission with big men James Graham and Sam Kasiano rolling through the Manly pack. The halves were also on song, but injury to their hooker Michael Lichaa and David Klemmer returning from a one game ban means they’ve named a different team.
The Panthers were not so lucky, going down to an inspired Canberra side in the nation’s capital: not only is their turnaround a day shorter but their match was in the afternoon sun. Their attack was where it should be, but they’ll have to work on their defense: 30 conceded to the Raiders on Saturday means Anthony Griffin will have them running defensive drills all week.
Number nines for both teams were felled by injury in round 1: their replacements have big shoes to fill, needing to get sets rolling from dummy half. Anthony Griffin has stunned the Penrith faithful, moving Tyrone Peachey in to the hooking role from his favoured back row, with Des Hasler going for the much more obvious option of elevating reserve hooker Craig Garvey in to the top grade. Crisp service from the number nine can get the sets rolling, and with the new interchange rules can help tire out the opposition’s forwards, like Cam McInnes did to the hapless Roosters on Sunday.
Canterbury love it at night when the opposition can’t throw it around at will and are forced to stick to the more conservative brand of football that’s necessary in the dew: the Panthers on the other hand love the chip-and-chase in-your-face rack em’ smack em’ fast brand of footy you can play on a dry track: the conditions more than anything else mean Canterbury can use their superior forward size to get on top and stay on top of the Penrith pack.
Bulldogs by 10.
Panthers: 1 Will Smith 2 Joshua Mansour 3 Waqa Blake 4 Peta Hiku 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6 Jamie Soward 7 Peter Wallace 8 Sam McKendry 9 Tyrone Peachey 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11 Bryce Cartwright 12 Isaah Yeo 13 Trent Merrin Interchange: 14 James Fisher 15 Jeremy Latimore 16 Suaia Matagi 17 Elijah Taylor 20 Sitaleki Akauola
Bulldogs: 1 William Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Kerrod Holland 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Craig Garvey 10 James Graham 11 Joshua Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood Interchange: Sam Kasiano 15 Tim Browne 16 David Klemmer 17 Adam Elliott 19 Lloyd Perrett