Saturday 20 January 2018 / 05:59 PM

Friday hangover: Panthers v Bulldogs

Canterbury trailed all night out at Penrith as the plucky Panthers looked certain to record a big boilover, but the Bulldogs fought back from 14-0 down to level the scores with a last-minute try to Moses Mbye. Centre Kerrod Holland, in his maiden NRL appearance, coolly slotted the match-winning conversion after the buzzer to clinch a thrilling victory in an absorbing contest.

Canterbury 18 (Moses Mbye 2, Will Hopoate tries; Kerrod Holland 2, Mbye goals) defeated Penrith 16 (Peta Hiku, Sam McKendry tries; Jamie Soward 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Halftime: Penrith 14-6. Crowd: 11,125.


The Dogs of War

Canterbury beat Manly up in Round 1 after getting off to a flyer, powering to a comfortable win on the back of a brutal forward display. This time round the Bulldogs were forced to claw back from a hefty deficit and fight until the 80th minute to pip Penrith 18-16 via a post-siren conversion by debutant Kerrod Holland. Both matches gave equal indication as to why they are a massive threat in this 2016 premiership.

The Bulldogs lost the early physical battle and fell behind 14-0, while front-row workhorse Aiden Tolman to concussion to leave the visitors a forward short. Rarely did they look like would win the game. But they refused to give in, holding the Panthers to two points after the break and keeping their heads to pull off the first at-the-death win of the season.

Holy Moses!

Canterbury’s No.7-elect Moses Mbye solidified his reputation as one of the NRL’s preeminent match-winners, coming up with two late tries in the Bulldogs’ back-from-the-dead win – including the equaliser inside the final 30 seconds. But his cool-headed play and tenacity during the second half was vital. Mbye’s kick-chase was superb, while he forced the line dropout ahead of the decisive final try. Absolutely first class from a player that came into 2016 under a fair bit of scrutiny. How about that Queensland halves depth…

 Pass that Dutch

A late call-up to debut at centre for the injured Chase Stanley, 23-year-old Hunter Valley product Kerrod Holland enjoyed a moment every player dreams about – kicking an after-the-siren conversion to win the game. Besides his clutch goal, ‘Dutchy’ Holland had a sound game in a pressure-cooker contest. Stanley may have trouble unseating the big, strapping youngster.

Fun fact #1: Kerrod Holland is just the second Kerrod to feature in a premiership match, after former Broncos hooker Walters.

Fun fact #2: Holland said “mate” 12 times in his 30-second post-match interview with Brad Fittler.  

 Throwback Thursday

Holland’s match-winner was the second time a conversion after the final whistle has stolen victory in Panthers-Bulldogs clashes at Penrith’s home ground in the space of two years. In Round 3 of 2014, Matt Moylan famously stepped up to bury a sideline goal to grab a euphoric win by the score of – you guessed it – 18-16.

Panthers honour history in gutsy display

Penrith did everything but win in a highly encouraging performance, in a match where the club celebrated its 50th season in the premiership. The Panthers were aggressive in defence, rattling a Bulldogs pack that had been feted all week after their Round 1 domination of Manly, and fast and clinical in attack. The hosts desperately tried to hang on in the latter stages, shielding a hobbled Waqa Blake on the wing with their interchange allocation exhausted – before coming up less than half a minute short of a major upset. But the young side’s commitment was a fitting tribute to founding Panthers in attendance at Penrith Stadium.

 RCG sets the tone

Reagan Campbell-Gillard led the way for the Panthers from the outset, producing a massive shot to jolt the ball free from Aiden Tolman on just the third tackle of the match – a huge play that allowed the home side to power away to an early lead. He clearly got into the Bulldogs heads, captain James Graham getting himself put on report for a senseless shoulder-charge on the tough tyro. The 22-year-old is just such a great front-row prospect, representative honours seem to be inevitable. Laurie Daley will be scrambling to check he hasn’t already guaranteed all of his Blues prop spots to last year’s incumbents, because this kid is exactly what NSW needs.


McKendry’s drought-breaker

Former Kiwi Test prop Sam McKendry brought a 1,110-day NRL try drought by barging over during the first half, his first meat pie since Round 3 of 2013. A quiet achiever, McKendry overcame a career-threatening neck injury just weeks after that match and has now played 55 of the Panthers’ last 57 games.  


Hiku Haiku

Cut loose for Walker

Found a home out in the west

Still a try machine

[YouTube – Sports Tube]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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