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
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.
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 5 -
Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Matthew DuftyFullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Brent NadenWinger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Braidon BurnsCentre for Panthers is number 3 Izack Tago
Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Jake AverilloCentre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen Crichton
Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Josh Addo-CarrWinger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan May
Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Matt BurtonFive-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 Luke ThompsonProp for Panthers is number 8 Matthew Eisenhuth
Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-KingHooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Paul VaughanProp for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Corey Waddell2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin
Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Josh JacksonLock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Brandon WakehamInterchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch Kenny
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Max KingInterchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Joe StimsonInterchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
Interchange for Bulldogs is number 23 Ava SeumanufagaiInterchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman Salmon
Replacement for Bulldogs is number 15 Chris PatoloReplacement for Panthers is number 21 Lindsay Smith
- Referee: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
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.
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.