Bennett: ‘I love what we did’

Published 8:15pm 16 July 2023

Bennett: ‘I love what we did’
Words by Kylie Knight

The Dolphins almost delivered the upset of the season in their clash against reigning premiers Penrith Panthers in their final home game at Redcliffe this afternoon.

It was a gritty, never-give-up performance that pleased coach Wayne Bennett despite the 24-14 loss.

Early signs were not great for the home side, with the Panthers running in three tries in the first 20 minutes but they missed crucial conversion kicks.

The vocal Dolphins’ crowd may have played a part in that with kicker Dylan Edwards even smiling at the crowd after the third miss.

To the relief of those same Dolphins fans, ‘Mr Reliable’ Kodi Nikorima found a gap in the Panthers’ defence and scored a try seven minutes before the break to make it 12-4 (conversion kick missed).

The half-time stats showed there wasn’t much splitting the two teams, but a handful of more missed tackles and nine ineffective tackles plus seven offloads to Penrith compared with one for the Dolphins proved the difference.

The Phins came out firing in the second half, playing with more intensity and appearing to be more organised in attack.

It paid off in the 51st minute with a kick-chase try to Connelly Lemuelu which was followed by another by fan-favourite Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the 55th, which put the home side in front 14-12.

The Panthers’ Tom Jenkins broke Dolphins fans’ hearts, when he scored two tries in just over 10 minutes to seal the win for Penrith.

Bennett: ‘I love what we did’

Proud of fightback

Dolphins’ Head Coach Wayne Bennett was happy to see the team fight their way back into the game and give their more-fancied opponents a run for their money.

“We’re playing a quality team. We’re 18 games into our life and these guys are back-to-back premiers and three-time Grand Finalists in the last three years and they’re leading the comp at the moment, aren’t they? We didn’t play a team of mugs,” Bennett said.

“I love what we did. I love the way we came back and made a game of it. I could have gone out to 40-0 if we didn’t turn it around. It took us 10 or 15 minutes to do that, to get a try … 20 minutes maybe. The second half belonged to both of us. They had their moments and we had our moments.

“They’ve done a lot of wonderful things in the last three years that team. We’re going to make mistakes those teams aren’t going to make because we’re not at that level but we’re trying awful hard to be there and a lot of effort is going in.

“I could find fault with a lot of things we did today, but I don’t want to. I recognise the effort we did put into that game and how we stayed in it.

“Everything we got out there, we had to earn. They don’t make it easy for you, Penrith.”

The message at half-time was pretty simple.

“We had to get ourselves back in the game. We had two tries that I don’t believe should have been scored against us – one was a charge-down and one was a poor decision with a ball in the air. The decision was right to let them have it, we tackled him below the ball and he got a pass away. That set us back and we had to fight our way back out of that situation.

“You can’t just turn it off like a tap, you’ve got to work yourself back into it. We did that, to their credit we did that. We never gave up and kept at it.”

The Dolphins have a bye this round, then six games of the regular season before finals. They are still in the mix at 13th on the ladder with 20 points.

“We’ve got six games to go. We’ve got to be good for the next six games and we’ll see what happens then,” Bennett said.

“I want us to keep playing on a consistent level and that will give us great confidence for the future. We’re building a club here. We’re not looking for a quick fix. It’s as simple as that.”

So, what positives did he take from this afternoon’s performance?

“Just that they wouldn’t give up. They were entitled to give up playing the team they were playing and the situation they found themselves in, but they didn’t do that,” Bennett said.

“It’s been pretty much the make-up of this team. We had a bad month … two weeks ago, we finished that month. I think we’ve passed that now. We’ve moved on. We’ll compete for the rest of the season, do our best.”

Check out the photo gallery (click through)

Photos by Dominika Lis


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