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Life doesn't get any easier for the Bulldogs up against last year's in-form premiers as they look to fight back from a round three pummelling.

The best news for Dogs fans in their one-win, two-loss opening to the year was their impressive defensive numbers with just 11 points per game conceded in that period, but that went out the window against the red-hot Storm with the 44-0 result pushing them down to 14th on the ladder.

It doesn't get any easier against the unbeaten premiers, with Penrith sitting all alone at the top of the ladder after four rounds and coming off a commanding 26-12 win over Souths in the grand final rematch.

They were missing star halfback Nathan Cleary for the first three of those wins, but the co-captain made a successful return from off-season shoulder surgery against the Rabbitohs with the Panthers looking every bit as dangerous as last year.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Bulldogs v Panthers

The Rundown

Team news

Bulldogs: Ava Seumanufagai is a late inclusion on the bench for the Bulldogs with Chris Patolo dropping back to 18th man.

Kyle Flanagan has been recalled to the halfback spot for his first NRL game of the season, with Brandon Wakeham shifting to the bench and Bailey Biondi-Odo to 18th man following last Sunday's 44-0 loss to Melbourne. 

Panthers: The Panthers are 1-17 with no late changes. Robert Jennings was the last man omitted and Lindsay Smith is 18th man.

Ivan Cleary has named the same squad that got the job done against the Rabbitohs. James Fisher-Harris and Liam Martin both resume in their starting jerseys with Spencer Leniu and Scott Sorensen listed back on the bench. Viliame Kikau suffered a head knock in last week’s win but with a nine-day turnaround is expected to play.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Matt Dufty
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brent Naden
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
  • Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Braidon Burns
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
  • Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Jake Averillo
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
  • Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan May
  • Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Matt Burton
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
  • Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Kyle Flanagan
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Luke Thompson
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Matthew Eisenhuth
  • Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
  • Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Paul Vaughan
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Corey Waddell
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
  • Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Josh Jackson
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Brandon Wakeham
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Max King
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Joe Stimson
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
  • Interchange for Bulldogs is number 23 Ava Seumanufagai
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon

Reserves

  • Replacement for Bulldogs is number 15 Chris Patolo
    Replacement for Panthers is number 21 Lindsay Smith

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Butler
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Matt Burton v Jarome Luai: Burton is one of a few ex-Panthers in this Dogs line up, with Brent Naden also up against his old club and Tevita Pangai jnr facing off against the club he moonlighted for late last year. But Burton was the one the Panthers really would've loved to have kept and who was the subject of a tug-of-war between the two clubs for a while last year before nailing down a first grade spot in the centres. Back in his preferred position of five-eighth, he faces off against the player who kept him out of the Penrith No.6 jersey last year in a duel that will have a big say on how this match plays out. 

Stat attack

The Panthers are already out in front of the pack when it comes to run metres per game, with their 1788 per match well clear of second-best Parramatta (1712). The Bulldogs are holding their own in seventh with 1585 metres gained per match. 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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