The Penrith Panthers put a frustrating 24-12 loss on the park against the Bulldogs in front of 30,000 fans (according to Aiden Tolman) at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, adding to the throes of a form slump that seems to have dragged on forever.
After exceedingly painful losses against Parramatta and Melbourne in the weeks prior, Penrith were clearly out to forget about their recent ineptitude when they came out all guns blazing in the opening exchanges against Canterbury-Bankstown.
The tackle were rough, there were even some dominant ones in there, and when we were anywhere that wasn't the opposition 20m zone there was plenty of promise with the ball in hand.
That's where the positives ended though, and it was another long night at the office for Ivan Cleary and Co.
So much seemed to fall in favour of Penrith; possession, territory, referee-ing decisions, yardage, and the convenient sin-binning of Josh Reynolds. Despite all this Penrith offered little in the way of points and plenty in the way of clumsy errors.
There were some improvements this week, though. The forward pack was formidable and probably laid an appropriate platform for more points. In particular Reagan Campbell-Gillard reminded us of why we've resigned him with an aggressive performance and even Sam McKendry managed to bump off a few would-be tacklers in the early exchanges.
It was the problem that's plagued us for the last two seasons that was again our demise: an inability to score points despite having ample possession and territory. Ever since our Round 1 match in 2014 where we beat the Knights but failed to capitalise on huge amounts of possession and territory in the first half there's been a distinct lack of a potent structure or set play and instead we've relied upon freakish plays from Soward, Moylan, Segeyaro and Co to score big points.
Teams are working this out now and a, slowly recovering, injury toll mean that a 3rd premiership at the foot of the mountains may be further away than we think.
- Josh Reynolds probably DIDN'T deserve to be sin binned in the first half for pushing Jamie Soward, it was likely that his expulsion was aided by his history as a grub
- James Segeyaro was taken from the field late in the second half with injury and it's reported that he'll be out for 3-4 weeks, though he started from the bench and a logical replacement is Apisai Koroisau
- Josh Jackson looks like he'll be on the sidelines for a prolonged period of time after performing a dangerous tackle on Jamie Soward. Greg Eastwood was also involved and put on report but played a much smaller part in the tackle
- Bryce Cartwright was the lone try scorer for Penrith with a freakish chip-and-chase and a late consolation after many, many ordinary sets
What do you think is the answer to Penrith's woes? Can their poor offense be fixed in time to make the finals?