Kevin Naiqama’s last-gasp try and a brilliant sideline conversion from Matt Moylan has helped Penrith record their best start to a season since 2007 after outlasting Canterbury 18-16 in an absorbing encounter at Sportingbet Stadium.
The former Newcastle winger showed great footwork to dance over the line following a sweet pass from the excellent Jamie Soward to make it two wins from three games for Ivan Cleary’s side after stand-in kicker Moylan held his nerve to convert on the siren.
An inspired second-half spell from Josh Reynolds looked to have won the game for the Bulldogs with the NSW representative setting up tries for Corey Thompson and Drury Low.
However, the Panthers hit back to seal the win much to the delight of the crowd of just over 13,000.
Cleary’s side led 10-6 at halftime thanks in part to a magnificent piece of athleticism from David Simmons, who regathered a Soward kick before finding Dean Whare who scored in the corner with less than four minutes gone on the clock.
Simmons scored himself on 20 minutes when he hauled in another Soward kick.
Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson then pulled a try back when he raced 40 metres to score after latching onto a forward-looking pass from Josh Morris.
Simmons almost added his second on the stroke of halftime following a brilliant kick and chase from Soward, but Thompson saved the day with a superb cover tackle to deny the winger.
The Panthers continued to look the better side after the restart but had only a Moylan penalty to show for their efforts.
Des Hasler’s Bulldogs started to finally exert some control of the game in the second stanza following the introduction of giant prop David Klemmer off the bench.
However, their hopes of a smash-and-grab victory were cruelled two minutes from time after Tony Williams was penalised for a high shot on Adam Docker and the Panthers marched down the field with Naiqama going over in the left corner.