Panthers 28 Bulldogs 12
Penrith poured it on in the second half of their NRL elimination final at Allianz Stadium in Sydney yesterday to down the Bulldogs and progress to a sudden death final against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday.
It was a performance that showed the maturity of the young side as they overcame some early jitters and a committed performance from the Bulldogs to run the opposition ragged late on.
Josh Mansour was the star, scoring a try and setting up another in the second half, while Matt Moylan also had many fine touches and combined well with Tyrone Peachey on several occasions.
Canterbury may have the right to feel aggrieved about a no try to Josh Morris midway through the second half when they trailed 16-6 but they were hamstrung by their own sloppy attack and sluggish ruck defence.
The speed and expansive attack of the young Panthers won them the day after a nip and tuck first half that saw Canterbury lead 6-4 at the break.
The Panthers again showed their versatility in attack when it mattered most. They were able to lift their intensity in the second stanza and, with halfback Nathan Cleary, Bryce Cartwright, Peter Wallace and Moylan running amok, blasted past the Bulldogs.
Although they shut up shop late, the Panthers had inflicted the necessary damage to tip the Dogs out of the finals race as they cruised to a comfortable victory. They scored some exhilarating long range tries and were far too good.
Retiring Kiwi international Sam Perrett scored the final try of the game and converted it to at least give the end of his career some lustre.
Week two sees the Cowboys host the Broncos (the winner plays the Sharks) and the Raiders host the Panthers (the winner plays the Storm).