South Sydney grabbed their third win of the season tonight against the Penrith Panthers by 18-2, with Nathan Merritt celebrating with his Club-record 145th try.
To watch all the match highlights, please click here.
To watch Nathan Merritt's post-match reaction, please click here.
To watch Michael Maguire's post-match reaction, please click here.
To watch the post-match press conference, please click here.
Merritt broke two milestones on the night, firstly surpassing Bob McCarthy’s 211 first grade game record (broken last week by John Sutton, while Sutton extended his tally t0 213), but also breaking an 81 year try-scoring record held by another Club legend in the form of legendary Test winger, Benny Wearing. Merritt is now the most prolific Rabbitohs try-scorer in the Club’s history.
Mere minutes before kick-off, the heavens opened up with a torrential down-pour to completely change the dynamic of the game. But while ball-handling was compromised by the conditions, the Rabbitohs’ defence was not – managing to make only a handful of missed tackles during the entirety of the match.
After some promising attacking play from the Panthers in the opening minutes, two penalties to the Rabbitohs allowed them to charge up-field, with Reynolds opting to kick for goal on the second occasion to give Souths a two nil lead.
A Panthers bomb was split by Bryson Goodwin on the 10 metre line, allowing the Panthers an opportunity to post their first points of the game in the slippery conditions. But the Rabbitohs managed to repel four repeat sets on the back of the mistake with some great scramble defence.
But the pressure wasn’t over for the red and greens, with a number of mistakes on their own line giving the Panthers more opportunity to score within 20 metres of the line. But the defence held strong in the trying weather conditions.
The Panthers continued to throw everything at the Rabbitohs despite the rock-solid defensive effort, but with their attack providing nothing in the way of points, a penalty within kicking distance posed the perfect opportunity for Jamie Soward to kick a penalty-goal to level things up going into the break.
On the resumption, it didn’t take long for debutant centre Kirsome Auva’a to grab a four-pointer on debut out wide.
But as special as Auva’a’s try was, the next one had a touch of history, with Nathan Merritt finally breaking through for a four-pointer to break the Club’s all-time try-scoring record with 145 tries. Adam Reynolds converted from the touch-line to make it 12-2 in the Rabbitohs’ favour.
The Rabbitohs defence continued to hold strong until the 63rd minute of the match – amazingly, it was at this point that the red and greens missed their first tackle of the match.
The men in red and green looked to score again with just under 10 minutes in the game remaining, with another recent debutant in the form of back-rower Kyle Turner crossing the line for the first time in his career to extend Souths’ lead, but not before going upstairs to the video referee – a possible off-side nearly robbing the young Rabbitoh of the four-pointer. Adam Reynolds converted to make it 18-2 to finish the game.
Rabbitohs 18 (Kirisome Auva’a, Nathan Merritt, Kyle Turner tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)
Panthers 2 (Jamie Soward 1 goal)