The Bulldogs avoided the curse of the 14-0 scoreline against the Panthers as they held on for a narrow 20-18 victory at ANZ Stadium.
The Bulldogs started the match on fire as they ran in 3 tries within the opening 20 minutes. Moses Mbye opened the scoring with a slicing run through the line although there was some debate as to whether or not an obstruction should have been called. While his fullback play was exceptional, Mbye’s average goal-kicking gave the Dogs a 14-0 lead which as the last two weeks demonstrated, played right into the Panthers hands.
Indeed it looked like a repeat of the last two weeks as the Panthers hit back. Isaah Yeo got them back in the game as he made a break in his own half and dashed away for 40m before passing it back on the inside to Maloney to score. The Bulldogs quickly hit back to extinguish a comeback but a try to Dylan Edwards gave the Panthers a chance with the half-time score of 20-12.
The Panthers lost Nathan Cleary for the 2nd half as momentum grinded to a halt. The lone try for the half went to Josh Mansour with a stunning put-down in the left corner. The Dogs held on for the victory with Foran adequately controlling the game and youngster Jeremy Marshall-King impressing in his first time in the starting side.
Panthers sweat on Cleary injury
Nathan Cleary is set to spend some time on the sidelines with an MLC injury. Media reports are currently claiming it’s a grade 3 injury, ruling him out for 10 weeks.
James Maloney stepped up in his absence but with the likes of Tyrone May still on the sidelines, the Panthers might be in some strife, having to run with a makeshift half for the near future.
Dogs come to life with Mbye leading the way
While the Dogs had been soundly beaten in the last two weeks, Mbye looked dangerous in every game, particularly given the star quality of the opposing No.1’s he was opposing. Coming up against the Panthers, Mbye’s good form was converted into points as he carved the Panthers apart in the first half, scoring a double and making 3 line breaks.
As the season goes on, he can only get better as he becomes more comfortable in the role. Dean Pay can rest easy knowing his positional shift turned out as well as expected.
Panthers start slow again
It seems like the Panthers only start to play once the scoreline reads 14-0 against them. While they managed to mount a comeback once again, they couldn’t make it a hat-trick of victories as they fell just short.
They’ll have to work on addressing it and finding a solution fast. While it’s early days, eventually the Panthers are going to come up against some of the competition heavyweights who aren’t going to be as generous with letting them back into matches.
Morris brothers in vintage form
Josh Morris celebrated his 200th game for the Bulldogs with a try that wound the clock back. Charging onto a sailing pass from Cleary, Morris ran away, going 90m to score with none of the Panthers youngsters coming close to catching him.
Brother Brett also had a good day out. His strong kick returns got his team in good field position from the get go and the twins kept the Dogs left edge defence completely guarded. The brothers kept the critics quiet who suggest that maybe they’re past it.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
”I’ve always thought of him as a fullback. He’s a runner and in any sort of open field, or broken play, he’s dynamic at what he does. And he’s improving every week and getting more confidence in what he’s doing.” – Dogs coach Dean Pay on Moses Mbye
“Can’t fault our courage. When we get ourselves behind we’ve got a tremendous amount of team spirit… they play for each other and tonight without a halfback it was nearly a really good win there, but we’ve got to fix those starts and when we do that – and we will do that – it will make it a lot easier for us.” – Panthers coach Anthony Griffin on another slow start to a game
Tries: Moses Mbye (4m, 30m), Josh Morris (10m), Will Hopoate (17m)
Goals: Moses Mbye 2/4
Tries: James Maloney (24m), Dylan Edwards (35m), Josh Mansour (72m)
Goals: Nathan Cleary 2/2, James Maloney 1/1