Panthers run riot over Bulldogs
Strong performances from Matt Moylan and Isaah Yeo have seen the Penrith Panthers secure their third-straight win in the Telstra Premiership with a 38-0 thrashing of the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
After a month of notoriously slow starts, Anthony Griffin's side raced out to a 10-0 lead inside 20 minutes before tries to Moylan and Yeo before and after the break extended the visitors' lead into a dominant 20-point advantage with a quarter of the game to go.
The Bulldogs were starved of possession with just 43 per cent throughout the contest and were lacklustre in attack in limited opportunities as the Panthers piled on the points at the backend of the contest.
Canterbury were dealt a blow pre-game with James Graham ruled out after leaving the field in last week's loss to Cronulla and struggled to gain any field position or go-forward.
Moylan's move into the No.6 jersey paid off early when he put a huge shot on Bulldogs winger Kerrod Holland in defence to force the ball loose and set the tone for the side's start to the contest.
After back-to-back penalties the Panthers put early points on the board when Nathan Cleary put Corey Harawira-Naera into a gap close to the line with the young rookie brushing past Moses Mbye and Adam Elliott for the visitors to take an early lead.
The Bulldogs had two chances to strike back when both centres Josh Morris and Brenko Lee broke through but lost the ball in an attempt to keep the play alive.
A second error from Lee allowed the Panthers to go on the attack once more with Moylan and Cleary linking up the middle of the Bulldogs defence, allowing for Mitch Rein to burrow over at dummy-half in his first appearance since joining the club in 2017.
With Peter Wallace out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, Rein took his chances throughout the contest and was rewarded with a second try in the 65th minute.
Penrith's momentum continued as they attacked the left edge with Yeo providing the offload for Moylan to score his fifth try in his last four games and send the visitors into the sheds with a lead for the first time since Round 4.
Canterbury started strongly straight after the break with back-rower Josh Jackson busting through, however the NSW representative was later penalised for a second effort on Mansour to hand the momentum back the visitors' way.
Blues teammate David Klemmer was then penalised for a clumsy high shot on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards and Moylan was again on the spot to deliver a repeat set for Griffin's men.
On the back of the building pressure, the Panthers were in for their fourth in the 52nd minute when Yeo linked with Fijian international Waqa Blake on the edge to stroll over untouched.
In his first appearance of the season, former Australian international Josh Mansour made a successful return to the Telstra Premiership with a 180-metre effort, while Edwards ensured the decision to move Moylan to five-eighth in the coming weeks was the correct one.
Mansour showed his attacking skill when he crept back in-field before kicking through for Cleary to crash over under the posts and deliver the Bulldogs their fourth-straight loss – their worst in a regular season since Round 22, 2014.
The game got worse for the home side when interchange hooker Craig Garvey was sent to the sin-bin for punching Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak with eight minutes to go as frustrations crept into the Bulldogs' game.
Penrith put the icing on the cake when prop-forward Reagan Campbell-Gillard nailed Sam Kasiano to force the ball free to complete their first complete 80-minute performance of the season.
After six months on the sidelines, Mansour capped off his return to the competition going over in the corner to deliver the biggest-ever winning margin between the two sides in the seven-tries-to-nil victory.
Penrith Panthers 38 (Rein 2, Harawira-Naera, Moylan, Blake, Cleary, Mansour tries; Cleary 5 goals) defeated Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: Panthers 14-0. Crowd: 11,283.