The Penrith Panthers barely got out of second gear but still managed to defeat the bottom-of-the-ladder and ill-disciplined Bulldogs 30-4.
After the loss Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett had to defend forward Jack Hetherington, who made a statement early in his first game back after serving a five-week suspension, giving away two penalties for high contact within the opening three minutes – the second of which commentators said he was lucky not to be sin-binned for.
“That’s two in two sets of six, he needs to fix it,” referee Matt Noyen told Hetherington and returning Canterbury captain Josh Jackson.
Despite referees cracking down on head contact in the NRL, Barrett didn’t think Hetherington had much of a case to answer.
“Jack’s not a dirty player. There was no force in any of those tackles at all. I really hope that there’s nothing, or a monetary fine would be sufficient,” Barrett said post-game.
“I’d hate to see him miss games for those. It would be pretty sad.
“I didn’t think there was anything in that, seriously. He might cop a fine – I hope that’s it. If you go through the whole game, there’s probably about six or seven other ones like that that didn’t get pulled up, but because his name’s Jack Hetherington, you can’t tell me that the referees don’t have their name in the back of their mind every time he’s involved in a tackle, and the crowd gets behind it as well.
“I really hope he doesn’t (get suspended). It would be a bloody shame if he did, because they weren’t bad, at all.”
Staines scores in the corner
Penrith made the most of the early opportunity from the back-to-back penalties with Charlie Staines scoring on the wing soon after.
Overall though it was an impressive first half by the visitors to be trailing just 10-0 to the Panthers who are undefeated at home so far this year.
Panther pounces on wild offload
However Canterbury’s strong first half defence fell apart in the second 40 as Penrith laid on another four tries to seal their 12th-straight victory.
“We knew they were going to come out [hard], their edge was coming out hard and trying to hit us outside in so we just had to hold our feet a bit longer,” Stephen Crichton said after the game.
“Hopefully we can get better next week.”
The Bulldogs got a late consolation try, but it was far too little too late.
“Zero imagination in their attack,” Fox Sports’ Cooper Cronk said in describing Canterbury’s offensive efforts on Saturday.
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