The Trent Barrett era at Canterbury got off to a shaky start a rain-drenched season opener in Newcastle and they face another tough test here against last year's minor premiers.
Penrith backed up from their grand final defeat with a 24-0 first-up win over the Cowboys on Saturday, and will be expected to make it two from two in this visit to Bankwest Stadium.
But the 2021 Bulldogs are a more talented side than they've been in recent years, with a new-look backline still working on their combinations and former Panthers assistant coach Barrett looking to revitalise their attacking game this year.
Bulldogs v Panthers
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 2 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Bulldogs: The Bulldogs are 1-17 as named. Hooker Jeremy Marshall-King is back from a foot injury and has taken Brad Deitz's spot on the bench. Raymond Faitala-Mariner has been promoted to the starting side and Corey Waddell has gone to the bench.
Tuipulotu Katoa and Chris Smith were omitted from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off. Lachlan Lewis and Joe Stimson were cut an hour before game time.
The Bulldogs suffered their biggest loss in 12 years when these teams last met.
Panthers: Hooker Api Koroisau has had surgery on a broken wrist suffered in round one and is expected to miss at least six weeks. Mitch Kenny comes into the starting side in jersey 21 to replace Koroisau.
Stephen Crichton was restricted to light duties at training on Tuesday due to a cork but is also likely to take his place.
Former Shark Scott Sorensen made his return from a hamstring injury in NSW Cup against the Knights and was named among the reserves but dropped out an hour before kick-off.
Matt Burton and Robert Jennings were trimmed from the reserves on Friday.
The Panthers have won five of their past seven games against the Bulldogs.
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 2 -
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Corey AllanFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Nick MeaneyWinger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Will HopoateCentre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Nick CotricCentre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Jake AverilloFive-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Kyle FlanaganHalfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Ofahiki OgdenProp for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Sione KatoaHooker for Panthers is number 21 Mitch Kenny
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Jack HetheringtonProp for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Adam Elliott2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Kurt Capewell
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Josh JacksonLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Jeremy Marshall-KingInterchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf AtoniInterchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Corey WaddellInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Dylan NapaInterchange for Panthers is number 17 Liam Martin
- Referee: Peter Gough
- Touch Judge: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
Kyle Flanagan v Nathan Cleary: Flanagan didn't start his Bulldogs career with a win last week but he remains one of the most talented young halfbacks in the game, having made an impression at the Sharks before impressing at the Roosters last year ahead of a surprise release to the Bulldogs.
He'll test himself against rugby league's best young No.7 here, with NSW playmaker Cleary fresh from winning the 2020 Dally M Halfback of the Year award.
Both these two are dominant kickers in general play and goalkicking sharpshooters, with the class and confidence to create opportunities for teammates or take on the defensive line themselves.
These teams were on opposite ends of the ladder last season, minor premiers Penrith finishing with 18 wins and one defeat while the Bulldogs narrowly avoided the wooden spoon with three wins and 17 losses.
But the head-to-head record between these sides is much closer, with two wins apiece across the past three seasons – even if the Panthers ended Canterbury's 2020 campaign with a 42-0 shellacking.
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