The Panthers’ win streak was broken last weekend, while the Bulldogs sit just two points above the Titans at the bottom of the ladder. This week they face off at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night. Jem Nash previews.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Bulldogs weren’t far off beating the Roosters last week. The Roosters looked like they were in cruise control for the majority of the match, but the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage. If they want to avoid the wooden spoon, a boilover against the Panthers this weekend is a good place to start.
The Panthers went into last weekend’s match against the Raiders on the back of seven straight wins. However, they weren’t able to match it against the Green Machine amidst some refereeing drama. The Panthers have a favourable run home but they need to make the most of it, starting against the Bulldogs.
Coach Dean Pay has made no changes to the side that pushed the Roosters last week.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs’ squad: 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2 Nick Meaney, 3 Kerrod Holland, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Jack Cogger, 7 Lachlan Lewis, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Corey Harawira-Naera, 13 Adam Elliott, 14 Jeremy Marshall-King, 15 Renouf Toomaga, 16 Danny Fualalo, 17 Chris Smith, 19 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 20 Brandon Wakeham, 21 Jayden Okunbor, 22 Ofahiki Ogden.
The same Panthers side will take to the field this week, with the only change being Liam Martin and Isaah Yeo swapping spots in the back row.
Penrith Panthers’ squad: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Dean Whare, 4 Brent Naden, 5 Brian To’o, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Mitchell Kenny, 10 James Fisher-Harris, 11 Liam Martin, 12 Frank Winterstein, 13 Isaah Yeo 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Jarome Luai, 16 Moses Leota, 17 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 18 Spencer Leniu, 19 Jed Cartwright, 20 Stephen Crichton, 21 Hame Sele.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the first meeting between the two sides in 2019. They split wins in 2018: a 20-18 win to the Bulldogs in round 3, before the Panthers bounced back in round 8 with a 22-14 win. Despite being on opposite ends of the ladder this season, the Bulldogs have shown they can match it with the best at times this year, so this result isn’t a given.
It’s hard to go past the battle of the fullbacks in this game. After a horror start to the year, Penrith’s Dylan Edwards has found his groove in recent weeks and been a big part of their revival. He will go head-to-head with former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who moved to the Bulldogs mid-season.
Watene-Zelezniak will have a point to prove after not being Penrith’s preferred option at fullback, but will have his work cut out for him against Edwards, who is in arguably career-best form.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday, August 3.
Venue: Bankwest Stadium.
Referee: Ben Cummins, Belinda Sharpe.
WHO WILL WIN?
The Panthers were nowhere near their best last week, and will be keen to bounce back this week and solidify their spot inside the top eight. If their forwards can get them on the front foot and give Nathan Cleary and James Maloney space to do their thing, they should be too strong.
Panthers by 10