HEAD TO HEAD | Canterbury Bulldogs

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100 matches [1967-2022]

44 wins, 53 wins, 3 draws

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_canterbury.htm

The head to head history with the “Berries” goes back to the days prior to their admission to the Sydney premiership in 1967. The second division Penrith outfit made headlines in the rugby league world by defeating Canterbury in the 1965 knockout State Cup.

Upon Penrith’s promotion to the first division in 1967, their first ever premiership match was against Canterbury at Belmore Oval on 2 April 1967. Canterbury won 15-12, but the Panthers led during the second half, and only poor goal kicking denied a first up win. Halfback Laurie Fagan scored the club’s first ever try.

The Panthers would register their first win against Canterbury in the second round of 1968. In what was reported as a scrappy encounter marred but a number of errors, the Panthers led 7-6 mid way through the second half before pulling away with an unconverted try then later a penalty conversion to win 12-6. Penrith would win both matches in 1969, with the ledger being 3 wins apiece at the end of that decade.

Canterbury would win 6 consecutive matches from 1970 to 1972 and would continue to have the wood over Penrith throughout the 1970s, although the Panthers would record three wins in a row in the mid-1970s. The best of these wins was undoubtedly the 17-0 victory at Penrith Park in 1976, which would be the first time Penrith had held a team scoreless.

Both meetings in 1978 would be drawn, with both eerily being 7-all against the newly renamed Canterbury Bulldogs. The Panthers were able to withstand a lop sided scrums won statistic to hold the Bulldogs to a draw at Belmore in the first round, whilst the return match later in the season at Penrith Park saw the home team come back from a 7-0 half time deficit through two penalty conversions and a try to force the draw.

The Bulldogs would be crowned the most successful side of the 1980s, winning four premierships, and Canterbury continued to hold an ascendancy over Penrith, with the Panthers only winning 5 of the 18 meetings.

The best of these wins was the fifth for that decade, with a resounding 38-4 thrashing of the defending premiers at Penrith Park. A near perfect first half had the Panthers purring with a 26-0 lead at the break, and continued the carnage in the second half. It was viewed by many as one of the club’s best ever victories to date.

The 1990s would be better for the Panthers, winning 7 and drawing 1 of the 14 meetings. Canterbury would win the first of these meetings with a 24-2 win at Penrith Stadium, but then would be characterised by both teams recording streaks of varying lengths.

Penrith would win 3 in a row across the 1991 and 1992 seasons, the last of these being a 23-16 win at Belmore in 1992, in which the Panthers benefited from some refereeing decisions in the second half to squeak home. Canterbury (also the Sydney Bulldogs) would win the next 5 from 1993 to 1996.

In 1997, the two teams would meet three times during what would be the solitary Super League season. The Panthers would win all three, including the semi final at Belmore. Leading 15-8 at half time, the Panthers were able to withstand a grandstand finish, including two disallowed Bulldogs try to hold on for a 15-14 win.

This streak was extended to four in their one off meeting at Penrith in 1998, and their one off meeting in 1999 finished with a 22-all draw at Stadium Australia.

The new century would start with the Panthers recording a 26-0 nil shut out at Stadium Australia early in the 2000 season, however, the Bulldogs would win 8 of the next 10 matches to their first meeting in 2005.

The two Penrith victories in this stretch, both at Penrith Stadium in 2003 and 2004 were arguably the best 2 encounters in their head to head history. In June 2003, a then record crowd of 22,147 saw a pulsating 28-26 victory to the home team, in a match that saw the lead change numerous times, and was only sealed in the closing minutes. Almost a year later, this was topped by a cracker. In an electric first half, the Bulldogs and Panthers traded tries, with the visitors holding on to a 25-18 half time lead. The opening 20 or so minutes of the second half was a grinding affair, before the home team put on the after burners in the last quarter to record a captivating 40-29 victory. A few months later in the return match at Telstra Stadium, the Bulldogs would crush the Panthers 46-20, in what is still their biggest loss to Canterbury.

They would meet for a third time that season in the preliminary final at Aussie Stadium. The defending premiers Penrith led 8-4 in the second half, however, a sin binning to fullback Rhys Wesser appeared to be the turning point, with the Bulldogs using the one man advantage to take the lead, and then ran over the Panthers to win 30-14.

From 2005 to 2009, the Panthers would bounce back winning 6 of the 9 encounters. Whilst none of these wins would reach the same dizzying heights of 2003 and 2004, Penrith would record their biggest victory to date against the Bulldogs at Penrith Stadium in 2008. On the back of a humiliating 62 point loss the week before in Canberra, the Panthers completed one of the biggest turnarounds in premiership history by cracking the half century and defeating the eventual wooden spooners 52-16.

Three straight wins to the Panthers in the 2010 and 2011 seasons would be countered by two Bulldogs victories in one off clashes in 2012 and 2013.

They would meet three times in 2014 – in the regular season, the Panthers secured victory on the full time siren in Round 3 at Penrith and won again later in the season at ANZ Stadium. The third time would be, almost ten years from the day, yet another meeting in a preliminary final. And once again, the Bulldogs were the victors and ended a stirring run from an injury depleted Panthers team.

Between 2015 and 2019, Penrith would win 5 of their 9 encounters. The first of these was a 24-18 win over a fast finishing Bulldogs in the opening round of the 2015 season – it in a way avenged the preliminary final defeat from the previous year. Whilst Canterbury would win the next two, the Panthers then won the next three.

The first of these was their fourth meeting in the finals arena, in yet another high stakes encounter, this time being an elimination final in the opening week. The sixth placed Panthers blew open the contest against the seventh placed Bulldogs in the second half, recording a commanding 28-2 win at Allianz Stadium. In 2017, Penrith recorded a 38-0 shut out at ANZ Stadium – eclipsing their 2008 win for biggest winning margin – whilst later in the season at Pepper Stadium it was a closer contest.

The Bulldogs won 2 of the 3 contests to round off the decade in 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, the Panthers and Bulldogs were at opposite ends of the table – meeting in the final round, the minor premiers in waiting (Penrith) smashed the locked in wooden spooners (Canterbury) 42-0, and set yet another new mark for their biggest win. Their two meetings in 2021 were once again big wins to Penrith, 26-0 in Round 2 at Bankwest Stadium and then 30-4 in Round 12 at BlueBet Stadium– over the three matches, the Panthers were up 98-0, and the duck egg was only broken with a late unconverted try.

The Bulldogs would have a slightly easier time in scoring against the Panthers in 2022, but still lost both head to head matches during the season – Penrith won 32-12 at CommBank Stadium in early April, whilst just under two months later an Origin depleted Penrith in the end comfortably accounted for Canterbury with a 30-18 win at BlueBet Stadium. This was also the 100th occasion that both teams had met in premiership football.

Canterbury also has the distinction in being only 1 of 2 clubs (the other being Cronulla) in terms of playing at least once against Penrith in all their seasons from 1967 to now.

Last updated 11 December 2022

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