Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bulldogs Predictions: 9/2 for comfortable home win

 | 9th May | 

3 mins read

Nathan Cleary Penrith Panthers 2024

The Penrith Panthers’ quest for a magnificent fourth straight NRL Premiership continues on Friday when they welcome the rapidly-improving Canterbury Bulldogs to BlueBet Stadium (kick-off 09:00 BST, 18:00 local).

Ivan Cleary’s side predictably took the struggling South Sydney Rabbitohs to the cleaners last week but Cameron Ciraldo’s Doggies are likely to pose a far greater challenge, with skipper Stephen Crichton returning to face his old club for the first time looking for a statement win. Here are my Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bulldogs predictions.

Penrith Panthers vs Canterbury Bulldogs Tips

  • Penrith to win by 16-20 points @ 9/2
  • Canterbury Total Points Under 9.5 @ 6/4

Team News

The Panthers’ biggest piece of team news is the return of inspirational scrum half Nathan Cleary after he was rested for the Round 9 win over the Rabbitohs in order to protect a troublesome hamstring. Former Hull KR half-back Brad Schneider drops back to the reserve list having deputised for the co-captain last week.

Izack Tago misses out due to suspension having been handed a one-match ban for his hip-drop tackle on the Bunnies’ Jye Gray. Paul Alamoti is named in the centres in place of the Samoa international.

Besides Crichton, Bulldogs back-rowers Viliame Kikau and Jaeman Salmon are also set to come up against the Panthers for the first time since leaving the perennial champs.

Connor Tracey has been named amongst Ciraldo’s reserve list having been scratched late on before last week’s win over the Wests Tigers due to a quad strain.

Josh Curran is set to start in place of Sam Hughes at prop, while Jacob Preston should get his first minutes after breaking his jaw having again been named on the substitutes’ bench.

Penrith to win by 16-20 points @ 9/2

As a Bulldogs aficionado who has been impressed by their upturn in form this season, this one is a tough call for me. But the Panthers just can’t be anything but big favourites at home, despite the progress the Belmore outfit have made under Ciraldo.

The return of Nathan Cleary is a big piece of news, while that Penrith pack is likely to lay exactly the platform the home side need. The Dogs, meanwhile, have plenty of recent history for being low scorers, with 39 single-figure returns in the last seven full seasons.

Having scored eight and six in their opening two games this term, they have more than held their own on the scoring front since but this week’s challenge might see them well beaten again by a Panthers side which has lost only one of their last 13 matches at BlueBet.

Over that spell, they’ve averaged a 19-point advantage over their visitors, and that shouldn’t be far off the outcome here with 9/2 implying an 18.2% probability.

Penrith Panthers to win by 16-20 points @ 9/2

Canterbury Total Points Under 9.5 @ 6/4

As discussed earlier, the Bulldogs haven’t been known for scoring in big bunches over recent years. And while this appears to be a far different iteration from the teams which have finished 15th, 12th, 16th, 15th, 12th, 12th and 11th since their last finals appearance in 2016, the jury is still out.

This feels exactly the sort of test Ciraldo’s side needs to really see how far they have come following their four wins in six games, but a team which has scored only 44 points in four road losses so far in 2024 has to be considered for a low-scoring loss against the best team in the sport.

While I have confidence that this is a different Canterbury team this year, they are not yet so different that they are likely to pile on the points against an all-conquering Penrith.

Canterbury Bulldogs Under 9.5 @ 6/4

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