Andrew Pelechaty reviews a wet Bulldogs vs Panthers clash at Bankwest Stadium ….. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Viliame Kikau (4, 58), Tyrone May (37), Paul Momirovski (71, 77)
Goals: Nathan Cleary (38, 60), Stephen Crichton (72, 78)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
1 pt – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
With the relentless rain across NSW (where’s Thor when you need him?), this match shaped up as a more old-fashioned, grinding type of game (with Bankwest Stadium already hosting the earlier NSW Cup game, a Western Sydney Wanderers A-League game last night, and the Eels v Storm game on Thursday night).
Despite the rain, it was a big day for Isaah Yeo, playing his 150th NRL game.
Penrith were the first to score in the fourth minute, with Viliame Kikau scoring a simple try on the left edge. While Nathan Cleary missed the sideline conversion, you couldn’t be too harsh on goalkickers in this weather.
Kikau had another chance off a big kick from Cleary, but he couldn’t take it, though the Panthers earnt a goal-line drop out anyway.
The Bulldogs hit back through Corey Allan off a nice kick from Kyle Flanagan and some strong lead-up work from Nick Cotric. However, it was denied via a knock-on from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak after catching Flanagan’s kick, which showed the at-times controversial new Bunker process, though at least the missed time while making the decision was added back on to the clock.
Some bad new for Penrith, with Kikau going off with a HIA, though he was soon cleared to return in the second half.
Canterbury Captains Challenged a Cotric knock on, but it come to nothing.
Penrith scored again just before halftime with some razzle-dazzle footy: in a nice bit of improv play, Jarome Luai jinked, jagged, and grubbered towards the posts for Tyrone May to score. Cleary converted to give Penrith a 10-0 lead.
Cleary tried to add a one-point field goal on halftime, but missed. Penrith had now gone 120 minutes without conceding a point: to push that stat even further, it was 155 minutes including last year’s grand final. The last points they conceded was a try to Ryan Papenhuyzen in the 45th minute in the grand final.
Canterbury’s defense was a standout after conceding five tries against Newcastle last week, a sign that they’re slowly improving.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 Penrith Panthers 10Embed from Getty Images
After a scoreless first 20 minutes, Penrith all but secured the match as Kikau scored his second try (his second career double), capping it off with a big dive in the wet, followed by a massive puddle. Cleary converted to give Penrith a 16-0 lead.
With 10 minutes left, Canterbury earnt their first penalty of 2021, but it soon turned sour as Cleary fielded a kick and made a break; Watene-Zelezniak tackled him high and was sin-binned.
The Pink Panthers pounced again when Paul Momirovski scored. It was Momirovski’s first try for his new club after stints at Melbourne, the Wests Tigers, and the Sydney Roosters.
He made it a double with three minutes left, as the score blew out to 28-0, and a combined 52-0 so far in 2021.
The big scoreline didn’t reflect Canterbury’s effort, with the Bulldogs completing 83% of sets, and making 91.8% effective tackles; though their 37 missed tackles hurt them, and – aside from the recalled try to Allan – they were unable to penetrate Penrith’s defence. While it’s only round two, Penrith’s ruthlessness (now 195 minutes without conceding a point) showed their grand final loss motivated rather than discouraged them.
Both of these sides have round three grudge matches to look forward to: Penrith have a grand final rematch with Melbourne on Thursday night, while Canterbury travel to Brisbane to play the reigning wooden spooners on Saturday night. The Broncos’ sole win post-COVID-19 break last year was against the Bulldogs.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 Penrith Panthers 28
Nathan Cleary (Panthers) – concussion
Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Bulldogs) – ankle
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Bulldogs) – calf
Match Review Committee
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Bulldogs) – Grade 2 Careless Tackle – Early guilty plea – 2 matches.