Round 19 Penrith Panthers 16 vs Canterbury Bulldogs 18
The Bulldogs can credit their scrambling defence for their 18-16 win over the Panthers at Penrith Football Stadium tonight. Several times in the second half the Panthers looked like scoring only for desperate tackles by Bulldogs players keeping the Panthers out, allowing the Bulldogs to capitalise on their 18-6 half time advantage.
Penrith struck first very early through Rhys Wesser who scored in sixth minute under the posts. This was all the Panthers could do despite a very strong opening quarter. Off the back of several penalties the Bulldogs found themselves in good field position and Reni Maitua ran past some weak tackle attempts to score. Preston Campbell kicked the ball out on the full after the try, and from the ensuing set of six Brett Sherwin put in one of his patented grubber kicks for Hazem El Masri to score under the posts. Maituas second try was very similar to his first, as the Bulldogs moved the ball left and Maitua ran almost untouched to the line.
Penrith started the second half as they did the first, scoring a nice try through quick ball movement right on the Bulldogs line. Preston Campbell missed the conversion that was ultimately the difference in the match. In thr 60th minute the Bulldogs defence appeared to have cracked, only for video referee Chris Ward to determine Frank Pritchard was held up short of the line. Finally Penrith scored again, but off an intercept as Anasta threw a wide ball that was taken by Preston Campbell.
The Bulldogs then defended strongly in the final ten minutes stopping a number of Penrith attacking raids, including Hazem El Masri somehow getting back into the field of play after fielding a kick.
In injury and suspension news, Bulldogs prop Mark O'Meley was put on report for a high tackle on Ben Ross, who injured himself in the first tackle of the game but bravely played on. Bulldogs fullback Trent Cutler was stretchered off with a knee/leg injury late in the match.
PENRITH PANTHERS 16 Tries: Wesser, Franze, Campbell Goals: Campbell (2/3) CANTERBURY BULLDOGS 18 Tries: Maitua 2, El Masri Goals: El Masri (3/3) Field Goals: Anasta (0/1)
Venue: Penrith Football Stadium Crowd: 16,270 Referee: Paul Simpkins Half time: Bulldogs 18-6
Live commentary: The winners of the last two NRL Premierships clash tonight, with finals chances on the line.
0 min: Kick off at Penrith Stadium!
4 min: NEWS - Ben Ross appears to have done some type of damage to his neck in attempting a tackle. He is still up and running around however.
6 min: TRY - Panthers The Panthers go two passes wide from dummy half and Wesser scores under the posts in an Anasta tackle. Video referee Chris Ward awards the try. Campbell converts. Panthers 6 - 0 Bulldogs.
8 min: ON REPORT - O'Meley is put on report for a high tackle on Ben Ross.
10 min: NO TRY - Panthers Off the back of a quick play the ball Clinton goes close but loses the ball. Bulldogs getting hammered 3-0 in the penalty count so far.
15 min: The Bulldogs are constantly stuggling to get out of their own half.
18 min: Bulldogs getting some decent field position now, have forced two line drop outs in a row now.
19 min: TRY - Bulldogs Anasta finds Maitua who goes straight past two defenders and scores. El Masri converts. Panthers 6 - 6 Bulldogs.
21 min: Panthers proceed to put the kick off out on the full.
22 min: TRY - Bulldogs The kick off error costs Penrith as Sherwin grubbers and finds El Masri to score under the posts. El Masri converts his own try. Panthers 6 - 12 Bulldogs.
25 min: Rooney puts in a high tackle as Willie Mason comes on.
29 min: Bulldogs winning the penalty count 4-3. Big pressure on Penrith to defend.
31 min: TRY - Bulldogs Maitua gets his second in almost a carbon copy of his first try. El Masri converts and goes past "Golden Boots". Panthers 6 - 18 Bulldogs.
35 min: Penalty count 6-5 to Penrith. Bulldogs have given up 3 inside a minute. Panthers hot on attack, but lose the ball.
38 min: NEWS - Gower limping after being hit while kicking. Play continues, Bulldogs making metres at will.
40 min: Galuvao loses the ball in trying to play it. Anasta attempts a field goal, it is deflected.
HALF TIME: After a great start Penrith have tired and the Bulldogs have stormed back into the game.
40 min: Second half underway!
44 min: Penrith break, and ultimately lose the ball with pressure on the Bulldogs.
47 min: Penrith look dangerous when they send the ball wide. Utai penalised for holding Luke Lewis back after he put a desperate grubber in.
48 min: TRY - Panthers Quick ball movement out wide sees Paul Franze score out wide. Campbell misses the kick. Panthers 10 - 18 Bulldogs.
53 min: Penrith break out trying to run the ball on the last. The pass finds the one Bulldogs player chasing.
55 min: Wesser lets a bomb bounce and somehow comes up with it just in front of Anasta.
58 min: Bulldogs make 3 metres on attack at their own end.
60 min: NO TRY - Panthers Pritchard drives for the line, held up is the decision.
62 min: CROWD - 16,270.
65 min: 40/20 - Preston Campbell.
67 min: The game looks like a mistake-a-thon, Wesser lets a kick bounce, Bulldogs recover only to lose it attempting to pass.
70 min: TRY - Panthers Preston Campbell takes an intercept off Anasta and scores to the right of the uprights. He converts. Penrith making a gallant last stand. Panthers 16 - 18 Bulldogs.
74 min: Bulldogs have hardly been on attack in the second half. Luke Lewis drops the ball into touch from Sherwins kick, putting the Bulldogs on attack.
75 min: Bulldogs fullback Trent Cutler looks like he has a serious leg injury as it got stuck under two tacklers. He is being stretchered off.
78 min: Both teams are out on their feet, Penrith fighting to the end.
79 min: El Masri somehow gets back into the field of play after fielding a kick.
FULL TIME: The Bulldogs fail to score any second half points, but hold out a fighting Penrith to win 18-16.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - R Asotasi (Bulldogs) 2 - R Maitua (Bulldogs) 1 - M O'Meley (Bulldogs) -----------------------------------------