Panthers prevail against scrappy Bulldogs
Penrith have secured their fourth win on the trot to keep their finals ambitions alive with a 16-8 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs at Pepper Stadium.
In a fairly even and uneventful contest, both sides had chances in attack but struggled to build any momentum or fluency on a slippery night at the foot of the mountains.
Two tries from the Panthers came on the back of Des Hasler's side failing to collect kicks in-goal, while the Bulldogs' attack again lacked any strike despite some moments of spark from livewire Josh Reynolds.
The result looked anyone's game until Tyrone Peachey delivered the clutch play to secure Penrith the win with 10 minutes to go.
Peachey put through a deft kick on the last and regathered a fumble from Will Hopoate in the in-goal, and the Panthers' defence denied Canterbury any chance of an unlikely comeback – keeping the visitors scoreless in the second period.
It was a near perfect opening start to the clash from Anthony Griffin's side before a Reynolds try ensured the Bulldogs took confidence into the break at 8-8 after they were forced to defend their line for majority of the opening half.
An error from Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman in the third minute allowed the Panthers to take a penalty shot at goal after Moses Mbye was caught offside close to the line.
Penrith continued to control the opening quarter of the game on the back of four penalties and extended their lead in the 18th minute.
Dylan Edwards linked up with Peachey on the edge and placed a kick in-goal for Peter Wallace to pounce on after Mbye and Tolman failed to regather the ricochet.
The Panthers' faultless start came undone out of nowhere when livewire Bulldogs five-eighth Reynolds set up a repeat set for the visitors before taking on the line and carrying both Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Edwards over for a four-pointer.
Canterbury's momentum after points was short-lived when a charging Sam Kasiano overstepped the mark with teammate Matt Frawley passing the ball forward to the Melbourne Storm-bound prop.
While the error did not result in points for the home side, Kasiano came off second best from the tackle and left the field with a sternum injury.
A second error from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for the night and a ruck penalty invited the Bulldogs to level up the scores a minute out from the break.
Penrith suffered an early blow to start the second half with Leilani Latu leaving the paddock with a suspected broken jaw.
Bulldogs back-rower Adam Elliott was next to leave the field with a corked thigh.
After two tries against the Titans last start, Waqa Blake blew a certain four-pointer for Watene-Zelezniak with the try line wide open before sending the Kiwi international over in a near identical play two minutes later.
The hands were continuing to let Watene-Zelezniak down with a third error allowing the visitors a chance to strike back, however the Panthers' defence was on song with the Bulldogs attack unable to bamboozle the line.
It proved an important win for the Panthers after a five-day turnaround, while any glimmer hope the Bulldogs had of finals football is now over.
Penrith Panthers 16 (Wallace, Watene-Zelezniak, Peachey tries; Cleary 2 goals) def.Canterbury Bulldogs 8 (Reynolds try; Holland 2 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: 8-8. Crowd: 8727.
NRL.com's unofficial votes: 3 points - Dylan Edwards; 2 points - James Tamou; 1 point - Josh Reynolds.