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Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg into Grand Final after inspired performance

The South Sydney Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg side have progressed to the Grand Final after an inspired 28-16 win in their preliminary final against the Penrith Panthers. 

Two quick-fire tries to winger Kane Allan saw the Rabbitohs lead 10-nil after ten minutes, while a try to Nick Mougios on the siren sealed the deal after a short-lived comeback by the Panthers.

An early penalty in the ruck gave the Panthers the first chance of the match, but the resilient defence of the Rabbitohs forced an error soon after. 

The Panthers then conceded a penalty of their own, with the Rabbitohs touching down through winger Kane Allan, who scored in the corner courtesy of a Lachlan Ilias bomb which was tapped back by fullback James Tautaiolefua. Blake Taaffe's sideline conversion was unsuccessful, giving the Red and Green a 4-nil lead after five minutes.

An error from Penrith 35 metres from the tryline saw the Rabbitohs with another sniff, and it was Allan in again after a left-side sweep saw the winger dive in the same corner. With Taaffe's conversion successful this time, the boys in Cardinal and Myrtle continued their strong start, up 10-nil after ten minutes. 

The Rabbitohs defence continued to torment the Panthers, pushing their opponents back in the tackle and once again forcing an error close to the line. A penalty for offside then saw Souths inch their way closer to the line, but consecutive errors and penalties saw a swing in momentum.

With fatigue creeping in, both sides traded errors, with the Panthers 30 metres from the Rabbitohs' line after an incorrect play-the-ball, and soon it was Penrith who would strike back on the edge to score their first try after 20 minutes. With the unsuccessful conversion, Souths maintained a six-point lead with fifteen left in the first half. 

A miracle bounce from the kick-off saw the Rabbitohs retain possession with a scrum ten metres out, but despite their efforts were unable to cross over for a third time.

A quick shift to the edges on their line nearly saw Allan break through for a long-range effort, only for the ball to come out of his hands. With Penrith on the attack, a huge effort from Nick Mougios on the Panthers dislodged the ball, and it wasn't long after that hooker Josh Cook dived over to score next to the posts after a slew of penalties just minutes from the break. With Taaffe's goal, the Rabbitohs built a 16-4 lead close to halftime.

A regather from the kick-off saw their opponents with an ample chance to hit back with just a minute left on the clock, however the resilience of the Rabbitohs' defence held out to maintain their 12-point lead at the break. 

A penalty in the first set on resumption saw the Panthers gain early ascendency, with a kick forcing a dropout from the Red and Green. Once again, the defensive fidelity of the Rabbitohs forced yet another error. 

After a real arm wrestle early in the second half, Lachlan Ilias then broke the Penrith defence wide open, with an inside-out ball from the ruck seeing James Tautaiolefua putting bench hooker Peter Mamouzelos through a gap to score under the posts. Taaffe's conversion then saw the Rabbitohs extend their lead to eighteen points. 

An unfortunate error 40 metres from the tryline from the Rabbitohs invited their opponents back into the contest, however an offside player fielding a kick took the Red and Green out of danger. 

Both sides continued to throw everything at one another, with multiple penalties to the Panthers eventually seeing halfback Matt Burton step his way over the line to close the deficit. With the try converted, the Rabbitohs continued to hold the lead with 20 to go.

The Rabbitohs continued to shut down the attacking chances of their opponents, with Allan preventing a 40/20 and Josh Cook continuing to cause problems around the ruck, but once again it was the Panthers scoring after a break on the left, closing the gap to six points with just over ten minutes left. 

A lazy penalty in the ruck gave Penrith another opportunity, but yet another forced error from the Rabbitohs showed they weren't planning on going down anytime soon.

Burton then put his boot to use, throwing up a massive torpedo kick that bounced back towards the Panthers, however the class of James Tautaiolefua saw the fullback calmly take possession, with the side getting a penalty for a ruck infringement one tackle later.

A frantic final ten minutes saw both sides throw everything at one another, with a 70 metre intercept try to winger Nick Mougios icing the cake for the Rabbitohs who qualified for the Jersey Flegg Grand Final.  



South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Kane Allan 2, Josh Cook, Peter Mamouzelos, Nick Mougios tries; Blake Taaffe 4 goals)


Penrith Panthers 16 (Jake Tago, Matt Burton, Charlie Staines tries; Matt Burton 2 goals)

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