Panthers get home over luckless Bulldogs
Penrith’s fortunes swung both ways on Friday night when they scored a 22-16 win over luckless Canterbury in a physical affair at ANZ Stadium.
The Panthers kept their top-four hopes alive, but were the beneficiaries of the video referee denying two tries to the Bulldogs while their injury crisis deepened even further.
Backrowers Bryce Cartwright and Elijah Taylor both left the field with leg injuries in a victory which lifted the Panthers to second on the ladder and broke a two-game losing streak.
Taylor suffered a likely season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee midway through the first half while Cartwright was helped from the field in the second stanza with what appeared to be an ankle problem.
It compounded the Panthers’ injury woes having already lost playmakers Peter Wallace (knee), Tyrone Peachey (pectoral) and Isaac John (achilles) for the rest of the year.
Hooker James Segeyaro was a standout for the Panthers, scoring twice, making one line break, seven tackle breaks and 37 tackles.
It was the Bulldogs’ third straight loss and brings into question their premiership credentials.
In front of 11,832 fans, Canterbury were the dominant side in the first half but trailed 6-0 going into break.
The Panthers were granted good early field position via some ill discipline from the Bulldogs and capitalised via Segeyaro in the seventh minute.
The Dogs crossed the stripe four times in the space of 10 minutes but were denied in each instance by the referees.
Josh Jackson crossed but the last pass was ruled forward.
Chase Stanley, Corey Thompson and Tim Lafai all went over but were turned down by the video referees.
Lafai’s effort was particularly controversial with the outside back ruled to have knocked on despite there being only the slightest hint of separation, the decision earning the ire of the Bulldogs faithful.
Stanley injured his shoulder putting the ball down in his first game back from a two-month layoff because of a knee injury.
The second half started almost identical to the first with Segeyaro crossing six minutes after the resumption of play.
Six minutes later winger Josh Mansour scored to make it 16-0.
Cartwright limped from the field in the 63rd minute but the Panthers scored two plays later through fullback Matt Moylan to put the result beyond doubt.
The Bulldogs scored three late tries through Lafai, Sam Kasiano and Trent Hodkinson.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary revealed after the match that Brent Kite had also suffered a pectoral muscle injury, while Cartwright had suffered ankle syndesmosis.
He said Kite and Cartwright’s injuries were long term but he could not provide a definite time period.
Cleary said the win was important in the context of their season.
“It was won by a team that just really wanted to play for each other,” he said.
“After last week, that was really important – that they play together and enjoy it.
“A little bit of that allowed us to force errors, with the way that they play.
“In the second half, we really controlled field position and possession.”
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said they were the victims of poor discipline and a bad completion rate.
He described the referees as poor but said they were not responsible for the result.
“If you have no ball, you don’t build any pressure and you have no field position,” he said.
“You just tackle and come off your line.
“(Referee Matt) Cecchin and his team were poor but that was not the reason why we didn’t win the game.”