As Penrith were finding a place in the rugby league world back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, a win against the more established Canterbury was hard to come by.
In fact, the Panthers lost their first three meetings to the Bulldogs, and went on a nine match losing streak from 1970 to 1973, and similar streaks in the years that would follow.
Different eras would garner a change of fortunes, of course, and there’s no doubt these two teams have quite a history – in fact, the Panthers have played the Bulldogs 100 times over the years. Penrith have only played more games against Parramatta (108).
The win/loss record is pretty even across those 100 games – 44 wins for the Panthers, 53 for the Bulldogs and three draws. That ledger has become closer in recent years and Penrith currently sit on a five game winning streak against the blue and whites, having last tasted defeat to them in 2019. Indeed, this is the longest winning streak Penrith has experienced against Canterbury at any time since 1967.
But there’s one stat that stands out more than most when it comes to this game – and it could look even uglier for the Dogs after Sunday.
Penrith have scored more points against the Bulldogs (1,888) than any other club they’ve ever faced. The way things are going, Penrith will add a fair number to that tally at BlueBet Stadium in their 101st encounter.
The Panthers begin phase three of their 2023 season on Sunday.
They’ve come through the first two phases, the most recent being the State of Origin period, with flying colours – sitting in first place on the competition ladder.
Resting the Origin stars and Nathan Cleary was a no-brainer for coach Ivan Cleary last Sunday as he looked at the draw ahead and saw a string of blockbusters against clubs like Melbourne, Cronulla, Parramatta and North Queensland.
The cavalry is well and truly back on Sunday afternoon and it could be a tough day at the office for Canterbury. Sitting third last on the ladder, Cameron Ciraldo’s side has the worst defence in the competition, having conceded a whopping 549 points this season.
They weren’t terrible against Brisbane last weekend but once Adam Reynolds put the foot on the gas, they simply couldn’t go with their more fancied opponents. You get the feeling it could be a similar story on Sunday.
In fact you would have to think Penrith’s biggest ever win against Canterbury – a 52-16 flogging back in 2018 – could be under threat from being replaced in the record books by this encounter.
The Panthers just have too much class across the field, and while often these one-sided clashes on paper don’t necessarily translate to the on-field result, you would have to be a pretty one-eyed Bulldogs fan to think they could compete this weekend, let alone win.
One interesting side-point here is the inclusion of Viliame Kikau in the extended Bulldogs side. If he does end up being a late inclusion in the 17, you can expect plenty of fireworks when he comes up against his former teammates.
Penrith are too professional to not get the job done pretty easily here.
You get the feeling this will be nothing but a warm-up for the tougher games to come in the weeks ahead.
Tip: Panthers by 44.
Penrith and Canterbury play at BlueBet Stadium at 2pm on Sunday, July 23. The match is live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.