Panthers win against the Bulldogs! #pantherpride
Penrith has put on an attacking masterclass to power past Canterbury 28-12 and into a mouth-watering semi-final against the league-best attack of Canberra.
Saturday’s semi in the nation’s capital will be a showdown between two of the NRL’s most unstoppable offences — with the Raiders’ 10-game winning streak ending on Saturday, while the Panthers are on a six-game tear.
Led by Matt Moylan, the Panthers played the sort of freewheeling football that propelled them to a sixth-placed finish after weathering a Bulldogs storm early on Sunday afternoon.
“They’re a big pack and we knew if we could stick with them in the first half we could run with it in the second,” Penrith centre Tyrone Peachey told Grandstand on Sunday.
Canterbury’s big men bared their teeth in the opening minutes at the Sydney Football Stadium, kicking for field position and stepping up in defence to pin Penrith in its own territory, and they were rewarded in the 14th minute, when half-back Moses Mbye froze Bryce Cartwright and ran by the five-eighth to score.
The lead grew to 6-0 with a 26th-minute field goal, but from the momentum shifted.
The Panthers marched up the field, aided by a dubious ruling when Moylan duped the referees by throwing his hand into touch to draw a penalty after being dragged towards the sideline in a tackle.
The young skipper was pivotal in the lead-up to the ensuing try, popping a superb offload to Cartwright in the middle of the field. Cartwright found rookie half-back Nathan Cleary, who threw a stunning two-man cut-out pass to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to touch down in the 35th minute.
The Bulldogs still led 6-4 at the break, but Penrith hit the front shortly after half-time with another scintillating try — Moylan sending Josh Mansour through a hole on the kick return, before the winger came to an injured Brett Morris and fired a pass to Waqa Blake to polish off an 80-metre play.
Then came the young Panthers’ masterpiece.
In the 54th minute, Moylan combined with Mansour on a lightning-fast wrap-around play. Moylan unleashed Isaah Yeo down the left flank and an offload ended up in the hands of Peachey, who steamrolled Sam Perrett, firing a long pass back in-field to workhorse Peter Wallace to cross under the posts for one of the tries of the year.
The Panthers continued to show how impossible they are to defend when they sent Peachey over the line just after the hour mark at the end of a move that featured one basketball pass from Leilani Latu, a tap-on from Cleary and a bullet-like pass at pace from Moylan.
Moylan was involved again in the 75th minute when the full-back offloaded to Mansour, who beat Josh Jackson with footwork, and outpaced and overpowered Perrett to reach the tryline.
Perrett crossed in with two minutes remaining, but it was the epitome of a consolation try and the Bulldogs’ season ended on a fourth-straight defeat.