Penrith Panthers consolidated their top-eight NRL challenge on Thursday night with a 16-8 victory over Canterbury Bulldogs at Pepper Stadium.
Bryce Cartwright returned for the Panthers on the bench, while James Fisher-Harris started at loose forward, with Moses Leota dropping out, while Tim Browne also started with Reagan Campbell-Gillard dropping back to the bench.
Brett Morris was a late scratching for the Bulldogs, dropping out with illness, with Kerrod Holland returning to start on the wing.
The Panthers took an early lead with a Nathan Cleary penalty goal early when Moses Mbye was caught offside close to the line and they extended their lead in the 18th minute when Dylan Edwards combined with Tyrone Peachey and kicked into the in-goal for Peter Wallace to touch down.
But Josh Reynolds brought the Bulldogs back into the game, taking on the line and carrying both Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Edwards over for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs suffered a blow when giant forward Sam Kasiano had to leave the field with a sternum injury, but a minute from the interval they levelled the scores with a penalty goal to Holland.
That was the last of the Bulldogs’ scores, however, and the Panthers pulled ahead with two unconverted tries.
The first came when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossed out wide on 58 minutes, while Tyrone Peachey completed the scoring on 70 minutes when Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate failed to deal with a grubber into the in-goal.
Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Tyrone Peachey, 4 Waqa Blake, 5 Dallin Watene Zelezniak, 6 Tyrone May, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 16 Tim Browne, 11 Corey Harawira-Naera, 12 Isaah Yeo, 17 James Fisher-Harris; Interchange: 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 14 Sione Katoa, 15 Leilani Latu, 18 Bryce Cartwright
Tries: Wallace, Watene-Zeleozniak, Peachey; Goals: Cleary 2
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 20 Kerrod Holland, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Chase Stanley, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Matt Frawley, 8 Aiden Tolman (c), 9 Moses Mbye, 10 James Graham, 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Adam Elliott, 13 David Klemmer; Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano, 15 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 16 Danny Fualalo, 17 Michael Lichaa
Tries: Reynolds; Goals: Holland 2
Monday’s edition of League Express, available in the shops or online, will feature full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches.