Panthers wary of intimidation in NRL final

Penrith five-eighth Bryce Cartwright expects Canterbury to try to intimidate their way to an NRL elimination final win against a Panthers side short on end-of-season experience.

In a do-or-die Allianz Stadium stadium clash on Sunday, Canterbury have to lift their form after losing their past three games while Penrith are chasing a sixth consecutive victory.

But the Bulldogs could easily claim a psychological edge with Des Hasler’s team boasting almost 100 games more finals experiences than the Panthers.

Between them the Bulldogs have played 117 finals matches compared to the Panthers who have just 24, making them the second-east experienced top-eight side behind Canberra.

To put it into perspective, Bulldogs flyers Josh and Brett Morris, with 13 and 12 finals games respectively, have played more finals than the Panthers squad combined.

“They’ll come out and probably try and bully us a bit,” Cartwright said.

“They’ve got a fairly big pack and a lot of experience there and they’ve got a great coach who’s been to a lot of finals’ games.

“It’s going to be a tough one and they’ll come out firing ready to go.”

Cartwright is one of nine Panthers players who hasn’t played an NRL finals game.

Exciting 18-year-old halfback Nathan Cleary is another.

After Cartwright’s breakout season, Panthers management are reportedly getting set to offer the 21-year-old a multi-million dollar three-year extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2021.

But with more than two years to run on his existing contract, Cartwright is in no rush to ink a new deal.

When asked if he could see himself playing at another club, the Penrith junior said: “Probably not. But I guess everyone with a background at a club says that.

“I’d love to stay here and my family has been a big part of this club.”

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