It was a win built on grit and goal line defence, much like most of the Bulldogs wins this season, as Penrith’s woes continued at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday evening.
Celebrating Aiden Tolman’s 200th Bulldogs game, the home side came out firing after an inspirational pre-game talk from 2004 premiership winning captain Andrew Ryan.
Their enthusiasm was set by former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who had a point to prove against his former team. He made several big runs, sending Will Hopoate down the sideline on one occasion.
A long ball from ever-improving half Jack Cogger set up the opening try of the game, with Reimis Smith scoring out wide in the fourth minute. Nick Meaney missed the conversion – and a penalty goal attempt shortly after.
Liam Martin was having a field day down the left side of the field, busting tackles and scattering defenders on every run.
A spate of penalties, some deliberate, from the Bulldogs marches Penrith into attacking position for the rest of the half. Brent Naden crossed for a converted try in the 13th minute before almost nabbing a second if only for a knock on.
Not long after it was the Bulldogs being dealt another blow with Tolman essentially sin binning himself by grabbing a Penrith support player off the ball in the in-goal.
The Bulldogs did well to repel the Panthers attack and a penalty goal was all that troubled the scoreboard until halftime.
Cogger continued his dominance in the second half, laying on a beautiful long ball to Watene-Zelezniak, who tipped it on delightfully for a Nick Meaney try. He was at it again moments later, dummying before scooting to plant the ball next to the posts – albeit a dubious decision by the Bunker as he appeared to lose the ball.
A second half mountain of possession to Penrith saw them with all the ball and all the field position, but the Bulldogs dug deep and held out the Panthers time and time again.
Not that Penrith’s halves threw a great deal at the Bulldogs, something Ivan Clearly will be furious with after last week’s efforts.
Try as they may, the away side were unable to muster up much of anything in the second half while the Bulldogs were too determined to led their lead slip. James Maloney was placed on report for a trip.
COGGER HAS A HOLD ON HIS HALVES SPOT
Jack Cogger was brought to the club from Newcastle with big wraps on him. He toiled away, has always shown glimpses of being a genuine half, but hasn’t shown it consistently in first grade – until now. For several weeks now he has stepped up to the plate, managing the game, setting up tries, kicking well and generally doing what the ‘Dogs have needed for a long time – be a genuine director in the halves.
WHERE TO FOR PENRITH?
Up and down and up and down, that’s the way of their season. Loss after loss after loss, followed by a long winning streak, followed by two losses in a row now. Where has it all gone wrong? They had no reason to complain against the Raiders, who put them to the sword. Against the Bulldogs however, they had enough chances to win two games yet only managed one try.
TOLMAN DESERVES CREDIT
To play 200 first grade games is a sensational effort, and for Aiden Tolman he notched up 200 Bulldogs first grade games against the Panthers. Andrew Ryan delivered a stirring pre-match speech as he presented Tolman’s match jersey and the Bulldogs players clearly took it to heart, turning up for their teammate, who is in everything every week, and has been for years.
HEADS THAT DROP NEED MOTIVATION
It was hard to ignore the glum look on Penrith players faces as they struggled for form against the lowly ranked Bulldogs. But what should happen is a lift in spirits from someone, anyone, out on the field. It looked as though no one was willing to deliver and as such, the Panthers continued to bury their heads. Something has to change of their season is over.
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 16
Tries: Reimis Smith, Nick Meaney, Jack Cogger
Goals: Kerrod Holland 2
PENRITH PANTHERS 8
Tries: Brent Naden
Goals: Nathan Cleary 2
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS: 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 To’omaga 16. Danny Fualalo 17. Chris Smith.
PENRITH PANTHERS: 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. Mitch 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.