Defence key to Panthers win
Penrith Panthers coach Anthony Griffin admitted it wasn't pretty and lacked the polish, but the side are continuing to win games on the back of their defence after their gritty 16-8 victory over the Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Their fourth win on the trot was typical of a side coming off a five-day turnaround and the Panthers stayed in control for most of the contest despite a low-scoring affair.
Penrith kept the Bulldogs scoreless in the second half before nabbing two late tries through Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Tyrone Peachey to seal another much-needed win and edge closer to the top eight.
"We are obviously defending well and that gives you a lot of confidence. But you only defend well if your attitude is right," Griffin said post-game.
"We're playing really tough together and finding a way to win. [Our attack] was clunky at times but with the Dogs when they're in that mood, are a really hard side to attack against.
"I thought we missed a couple of opportunities in the first half but in general we were patient with the ball and got what we needed."
Despite the dour contest, Griffin wasn't concerned with the side's attack, particularly after losing skipper Matt Moylan for the clash and the way the visitors like to slow the game down.
Two of Penrith's four-pointers came on the back of errors in-goal from the Bulldogs, while winger Watene-Zelezniak had a tough night with his hands, coming up with five errors.
Penrith completed 32 of 39 sets, but the usually reliable Watene-Zelezniak allowed the Bulldogs more opportunities to attack until Peachey struck out of nowhere late in the game.
"We just kept killing ourselves, that was probably the biggest problem we had - errors in our own end," Griffin said.
"But we were tough enough to defend them. From our end it was good that we were able to push through the other side of it.
"It was good and was always going to be like that [gritty battle] against the Dogs."
The win secures Penrith's eighth victory in their past 10 matches and comes on the back of Griffin's decision to shuffle the side around – in particular Dylan Edwards in the No.1 jersey and more recently bringing Reagan Campbell-Gillard off the bench.
Young rookies Corey Harawira-Naera and Tyrone May have also stepped up when required.
"The pleasing thing is every time we give someone an opportunity they get the job done," Griffin said.
"We shuffled the starting line-up around and Campbell-Gillard and Brown go to another level. Team spirit is good, the team is getting tighter and tighter each week as the season goes on."
The Panthers welcomed back Bryce Cartwright from injury but face a nervous wait on Tongan international Leilani Latu after the 24-year-old left the field in the second half with a suspected fractured jaw.
Griffin confirmed Latu was taken to hospital, while Cartwright managed 33 minutes in his return game with seven carries of the football.
"I thought his minutes were good and defended well with energy," Griffin said.
"He had a nice touch there at the end and it was a good game to bring him in. It was going to be a real physical war and grind so he'll get confidence out of that.
Meanwhile, Griffin was hopeful Moylan and injured centre Dean Whare would be available for the side's Round 22 clash against the Wests Tigers at Pepper Stadium.
"The turnaround is good now and gives us 10 days to keep and eye on them and we'll see what happens," he said.