Hasler rues first-half penalty count
A furious Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was upset with a 5-1 penalty count in the first half that left him frustrated after his side's thrilling 18-16 loss to the Panthers in Penrith on Saturday evening.
In the end the indiscretions finished 8-3 in the home side's favour but by then, Hasler said the damage had been done.
Asked whether he was shattered with the loss, the two-time premiership winning coach replied: "Not shattered, frustrated is a better word I think. First half, to their credit, I thought they laid all over us. They really milked the ruck, yet we couldn't buy a penalty.
"Penalty count finished up at 5-1 at halftime. All we did was come off our own line. We had no field position, no possession... some really fundamental errors [and] maybe the conditions at 4:30pm, might've added to that."
Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis refused to blame the conditions for a lacklustre first half that led to the visitors having to make almost 50 more tackles than their opposition.
"Both sides had to play in it, they probably just handled it better," he said. "It was definitely humid out there, but that's what happens at this time of the year. As Des said, they beat us to the punch in the ruck."
The Bulldogs faced a 12-6 deficit with 13 minutes remaining but, led by five-eighth Josh Reynolds, scored two tries in the closing stages to close in on what would've been a gritty win. But the tide turned again when Jamie Soward sent Kevin Naiqama over for a match-winning try in the final minute.
Hasler described the defeat as "one of those games" he hoped wouldn't hurt them in the latter stages of the season.
"I think we came off in the first half with only 37 per cent possession. A bit like the South Sydney [game], going up the hill," he said.
"We got to 12-6 at halftime. They only scored tries by kicks into the corner, so I thought we defended the way we had to. Obviously we got back into the game, we had the game won.
"[They] had two penalties, led them down the field 100m, throw a cut out pass. Fifty-fifty, they scored in the corner, kicked the goal.
"Unfortunately it's one of those games that we had won, we had it in the bag, and it's always one of those ones you hope don't come back and bite you. We gotta go to Perth next week against a handy football side [Melbourne] and win a game of footy. Of course we lost one here today."