A dominant showing from a revamped Penrith outfit has seen the Panthers run away with an emphatic 38-0 over a deplorable Bulldogs side, played before a crowd of 11,283 at ANZ Stadium.
Coming into the Round 13 encounter after back-to-back come from behind wins over the Warriors and Knights, the Panthers were in need of a strong start against a Bulldogs outfit missing captain James Graham and NSW representative Brett Morris.
Dominating early proceedings with strong defence and a run of penalties, back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera opened the scoring after just three minutes, courtesy of a nice pass from Nathan Cleary.
Gaining ascendancy throughout the opening quarter, the visitors were rewarded for their sustained pressure with off-season recruit Mitch Rein burrowing over from close range. Making his club debut for the Panthers, the former Dragons rake filled in admirably in the absence of Peter Wallace is a sign coach Anthony Griffin may have a selection conundrum to resolve upon Wallace's return.
Making his first appearance in the halves, captain Matt Moylan was rewarded for a strong kicking game with a try of his own, after being on the spot to support an Isaah Yeo offload in the 29th minute to give the Panthers a well-deserved 14-0 lead at the change of ends.
Needing an immediate reversal of fortune, the Bulldogs started the second half with plenty of enthusiasm but poor execution saw the Panthers handle the pressure.
Running in three tries in the space of 15 minutes midway through the second half, the Panthers blew the scoreline out to 32-0 courtesy of four-pointers to Waqa Blake (52nd minute), Mitch Rein (64th minute) and Nathan Cleary (67th minute) to leave the Bulldogs with no answers.
A fracas between Bulldogs utility Craig Garvey and Panthers flyer Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the shadows of fulltime saw the Canterbury replacement given an early shower for throwing a punch, while the knockout blow came in the 79th minute as returning winger Josh Mansour crossed to secure a 38-0 win for the Panthers.
Producing their finest performance of 2017, the Panthers were dynamic with a new lineup, while the Bulldogs were nothing short of abysmal in Des Hasler's 350th career coaching appearance.
Next week the Panthers return to the foot of the mountains to host the Raiders on Saturday night, while the Bulldogs will be in need of a huge reversal of fortune as they return to ANZ Stadium against the high-flying Dragons.
If Cleary and Rein play well today then the headline must read: I can see Cleary now Mitch Rein has come #NRLBulldogsPanthers
— Martin Gabor (@MartinJGabor) June 4, 2017