In a game that never reached any great heights and was punctuated with errors, it was the home side Canterbury-Bankstown who did enough in the opening 20 minutes to prevail over a disappointing Penrith outfit 14-4 at ANZ Stadium today.
Having led 12-0 inside the opening 20 minutes, the game failed to evolve as just a lone penalty goal and a Penrith try were the remaining scoring highlights, but the win ensures that the Bulldogs have won both games played this season against the pre-season favourites.
Halves Lachlan Lewis and Josh Cleeland were instrumental in the Bulldogs jumping out to that 12-0 lead before the Bulldogs outfit defended tirelessly to restrict their opponents to just the four points over the remaining 60 minutes.
The home side’s chances of recording a much-needed win weren’t helped with the withdrawal of Richie Kennar while also missing the likes of Marcelo Montoya and Francis Taulau.
By contrast, despite losing Dylan Edwards and influential hooker Mitch Rein to the NRL side as well as Jack Hetherington (suspension), Penrith certainly came into this game feeling confident about their chances given their side was bolstered by the inclusion of Peta Hiku, Te Maire Martin, Moses Leota and Sitaleki Akauola.
The Bulldogs had the better of the opening exchanges and were rewarded with the first try of the game after 10 minutes when Tyrone Phillips was able to dive on the loose ball in the in-goal off a Lachlan Lewis cross-field kick to score in the right corner. With Chase Stanley’s conversion, the home side led 6-0.
The Bulldogs continued to pile on the pressure and doubled their lead after 18 minutes when halfback Lewis scored after his halves partner Josh Cleeland broke through some feeble Panthers defence 30m out from the try line.
The Bulldogs could have nearly had three unanswered tries soon after when an unmarked Reimis Smith touched down in the left corner only for referee Darian Furner to rule the flung pass from Stanley forward in the lead-up.
It was a largely forgettable performance by Penrith as they went to the sheds trailing 12-0 after the Panthers were unable to convert promising situations into points and made a plethora of errors in the process.
A Michael Oldfield lost ball 25 metres out from his own line coupled with a penalty in the ensuing set enabled the Bulldogs to push the lead out to 14 midway through the second half courtesy of Zac Woolford’s boot.
But Penrith finally got on the board with 15 to go when Christian Crichton streaked 80 metres to score in the right corner to give the away side a sniff at 14-4.
However that was the closest Penrith got and the loss may prove even more costly than keeping in touch with the top four after both Darren Nicholls and Sitaleki Akauola were placed on report in the closing minutes of the game.
The 14-4 win sees the Bulldogs consolidate their spot in the top eight as they now take on in-form Illawarra at Belmore Sports Ground next Saturday while at the same time, Penrith will be looking to bounce back at home against the high-flying Mounties.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 (T Phillips, L Lewis tries; C Stanley 2, Z Woolford goals) def Penrith Panthers 4 (C Crichton try)