2021 NRL Round 2 Preview, Bulldogs Vs Panthers

Matt Attard previews the Saturday afternoon clash between the Bulldogs and Panthers ….. This is what we have to look forward to.

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Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Date: 20/3, Time: 3pm (local)

Bulldogs Team

  1. Corey Allan
  2. Nick Meaney
  3. Will Hopoate
  4. Nick Cotric
  5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  6. Jake Averillo
  7. Kyle Flanagan
  8. Ofahiki Ogden
  9. Sione Katoa
  10. Jack Hetherington
  11. Adam Elliott
  12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  13. Josh Jackson
  14. Jeremy Marshall-King
  15. Renouf Atoni
  16. Corey Waddell
  17. Dylan Napa
  18. Tuipulotu Katoa
  19. Chris Smith
  20. Lachlan Lewis
  21. Joe Stimson

Team Changes

IN: Chris Smith, Jeremy Marshall-King, Joe Stimson, Lachlan Lewis, Tuipulotu Katoa
OUT: Bradley Deitz

Panthers Team

  1. Dylan Edwards
  2. Charlie Staines
  3. Paul Momirovski
  4. Stephen Crichton
  5. Brian To’o
  6. Jarome Luai
  7. Nathan Cleary
  8. Moses Leota
  9. Apisai Koroisau
  10. James Fisher-Harris
  11. Viliame Kikau
  12. Kurt Capewell
  13. Isaah Yeo
  14. Tyrone May
  15. Spencer Leniu
  16. Matthew Eisenhuth
  17. Liam Martin
  18. Scott Sorensen
  19. Matt Burton
  20. Robert Jennings
  21. Mitch Kenny

Team Changes

IN: Matt Burton, Mitch Kenny, Robert Jennings, Scott Sorensen.
OUT: nil

Referee: Peter Gough



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At times during their opening match against Newcastle, the Bulldogs looked slick. There’s no doubt their attack has improved, but they gave themselves next to no chance with 13 errors and 12 penalties/six-again calls against them.
They backed that up with some poor defensive reads and lack of commitment on the line. No doubt that would have been the focus in the lead up to this clash with the premiership favourites.


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Only a team as good as the reigning minor premiers can hold a team to nil, score four tries, yet still be called sloppy. But that’s how many saw their round one contest with the Cowboys.

Sure they defended well, but at times they looked clunky (as most sides did given it’s the start of the season). They only completed at 67 per cent, which spells bad news for the Bulldogs. Ivan Cleary will want to see a massive and immediate improvement. It won’t take Penrith long to settle back in to the style and form that saw them in last year’s grand final.


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The stage is set for a showdown between Trent Barrett and Ivan Cleary. Everyone knows the story of Barrett leading the Panthers attack in 2020 and how both were once mates, but not any more – at least according to tabloids.
The parts about disharmony between the two couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact remains, this game is all about football and not about a perceived grudge.

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This is still an exciting time for the Bulldogs, but a tough draw may raise some doubts in their ability for the opening month or so. They are yet to play a match in dry conditions (trials and opposed inter-club matches included), but the real test here is their defence and ball handling. Everyone knows it’s time that they need.

If Barrett’s men can hold the pill and set their defensive structures, they could have pundits singing their praises no matter the result. If not, it could be a long night at the office.

Penrith were led around the park by the usual suspects last week and – on top of their clever and at-times freakish attack – their defence is where the real work is done. They’re excellent at isolating their best defenders with their opponents’ best attackers to shut down play. No doubt Kyle Flanagan will be a marked man on Saturday.

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They played each other once in 2021 – a demolition by Penrith 42-0. The key stats then were completion rates and possession, just as it is now. In that clash, Penrith had the lion’s share of the ball and had seven more sets than the Bulldogs.

Interestingly, the Bulldogs completed at a higher percentage in that match, but could not come up with points. It shows that Penrith are masters with the ball and the Bulldogs couldn’t score a try if they bought one. However, this is a different Bulldogs team. It will be interesting to see what happens if the home side can hold the Steeden and have at least an even share of possession.


I think we will see an improved Bulldogs side with the ball and without: it couldn’t get much worse than their efforts in round one. However it won’t be enough. Penrith were off their game and still held their opponents to nil. This will be a comfortable Panthers victory.

  Panthers by 18.

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