Canterbury have notched up their first win of the 2018 NRL season following a 20-18 victory over Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Friday evening.
The Bulldogs capitalised on a mountain of possession early, through a favourable penalty count to establish a good first half lead before another Penrith fightback almost reeled them in.
The 'Dogs struck early after back-to-back penalties lead to a Foran kick for Brett Morris. He went up for the catch and although the ball slipped through Waqa Blake's hands and into Morris', the Blue and Whites winger was held up when trying to score. Canterbury got another set of six and immediately swung the ball right where Mbye got outside the defence to open the scoring after just 5 minutes. He was unable to convert from out wide.
Penrith dominated possession next thanks three straight penalties and while on the attack, their plot was foiled by a Josh Morris intercept. The centre raced 87 metres to score under the posts. Mbye added the extras and after 12 minutes, the Belmore-based side led by ten.
Five minutes later and the Dogs were in again. This time Lichaa's ugly grubber from dummy half close to the Panthers line ended up in Hopoate's hands. He cleaned the ball up and kept low to somehow ground the ball on the chalk despite plenty of defensive attention to extend the lead further. Mbye was again unable to convert from wide on the left side.
Out of nowhere the Panthers hit back after Yeo got outside his man, put on a big fend and broke the line before passing back inside to Maloney, who stepped Morris to dive over for a good try. Cleary nailed the goal to reduce the deficit to eight.
Five minuters later, Mbye again scored out wide on the left side after starting the set with a brilliant kick return that put his side immediately on the attack. He got outside the right side edge defence to cross for an easy try. He converted from out wide this time.
Not to be outdone Penrith put another try on the board before the break when a great Kikau offload put Edwards into space, who managed to score in the left corner. Cleary with a magnificent sideline conversion made the score 20-12 to the Dogs at halftime.
The Panthers ran out for the second half without young halfback Nathan Cleary, who picked up a knee injury in the first half.
Penalties and missed opportunities dominated the opening half hour of the second half before Josh Mansour scored a stunning diving try in the corner, with Maloney nailing the sideline conversion to reduce the margin to just 2 points.
Some adventurous play by the Panthers late in the game didn't bear any fruit and the Bulldogs hung on for a tight 2 point victory.
Next week Canterbury are back at ANZ Stadium for the traditional Good Friday clash against South Sydney, while Penrith leave Sydney for the first time when they hotfoot it up to Townsville to play the Cowboys on Thursday night.