Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has led the Canterbury Bulldogs to an upset 16-8 victory over former side the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium tonight.
Fighting to stave off the Titans at the bottom of the ladder, the Bulldogs came out stronger in the opening exchanges and shot out to an early lead when winger Reimis Smith crossed in the corner in the 6th minute. A nice cut-out ball from pivot Jack Cogger created the two on one and centre Will Hopoate doesn't need to be asked twice when given such an opportunity.
Nick Meaney couldn't put both wingers' names on the score sheet early missing his conversion, but the home team held an early four point advantage.
The Panthers would soon hit back when second-rower Liam Martin offloaded close to the line for James Maloney who showed quick hands in putting rookie centre Brent Naden over the line.
Halfback Nathan Cleary converted from out wide to give the visitors a 6-4 lead after fifteen minutes of play.
A see-sawing half of action continued for the next 25 minutes. Both teams had their chances, but in the end only a penalty goal from each team troubled the scorers and the Panthers went into the sheds with a slender two point lead.
The Bulldogs again came out of the sheds the stronger in the second forty and again it was a cut-out ball from Cogger that created the space for former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who showed quick hands in putting Meaney over in the 49th minute to put the home side back in front.
Capping a great game, Cogger again showed his class to ultimately seal the game for his team in the 63rd minute showing a neat right foot step before planting the ball down under the posts. Holland made no mistake with the conversion to give the Bulldogs an all-important eight point advantage.
The Panthers would go on to mount a serious challenge in the ensuing 15 minutes, but the Bulldogs brick wall defence wouldn't budge as they repelled multiple attacking raids including a couple of big tackles from Lachlan Lewis and Watene-Zelezniak when the Panthers looked certain to score.
The win for the Bulldogs sees them move four points clear of the Titans who sit in last place and one step further away from the dreaded wooden spoon. They will head to ANZ Stadium next Saturday night looking to knock off another top eight fancy in the Wests Tigers.
The Panthers will need to quickly lick their wounds before hosting the Cronulla Sharks at Panthers Stadium next Friday night in what looms as a season defining match-up for both teams.