The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the Penrith Panthers tonight (Friday) to the tune of 20-6 at Pepper Stadium in Round 17 of the NRL.
The Rabbitohs were kept scoreless for some 75 minutes, with the sides only four-pointer coming in the form of a try to Joel Reddy.
It was all the Rabbitohs in the opening 10 minutes of the match, with the men in red and green attacking the home-side’s line with intent and precision, but espite numerous cracks at the line, the Rabbitohs were unable to come up with points.
The Panthers by contrast had no such issue when they finally found themselves deep in Souths’ half and it would prove to be a theme for the night. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak picked up a loose ball close to the line to score a try, but not before the video referee took numerous looks at the effort before finally awarding the try to make it 4-0.
Zelezniak almost grabbed a second from the ensuing set when he had the Rabbitoh defence clutching air after a brilliant in-and-away to seemingly score. But the try was immediately disallowed thanks to an obstruction.
If the first 10 minutes was all Souths’, the remainder of the match was all about Penrith. The Panthers were looking dangerous with the ball – making easy metres while also throwing some adventurous passes that could have easily yielded points had it not been for some poor ball-control in the following 10 minutes.
The weight of possession would eventually yield points for Penrith, with centre Dean Whare taking advantage of a jagged Rabbitohs defensive line to streak over and score out wide. Soward’s conversion attempt was waved away to leave the score at 8-0.
A number of penalties to the Rabbitohs deep in Penrith’s half saw the men in red and green try unsuccessfully to score thanks to some brilliant Panthers defence.
Alex Johnston almost conjured a try out of nothing inside the final minute of play when he broke through the Panthers line just past the 40, before being briefly grounded and passing on to a flying Bryson Goodwin who seemed to score. But officials ruled against the four-pointer citing that the Johnston tackle was complete. The decision would take the teams to the sheds with Penrith leading 8-0.
After the break, the Panthers came out firing again and after pressing the Rabbitohs on their own line for a myriad of repeat-sets, a kick into the in-goal from Jamie Soward saw Peter Wallace time his run to pounce on the pill to score right next to the sticks. Former Rabbitoh Apisai Koroisau converted to make it 14-0.
Penrith continued to dominate by repelling wave after wave of Rabbitohs attack before immediately turning defence into attack to apply pressure on the red and greens, and with just under 20 minutes remaining, Waqa Blake tip-toed down the sideline to grab a try for the home-side to make it 18-0.
The Rabbitohs’ woes continued when Dave Tyrrell was knocked out and consequently stretchered off the field after a head-clash in a tackle. Tyrrell would not return although in a positive sign, the prop forward did sit on the bench for the remainder of proceedings.
Chris Grevsmuhl came within an inch of scoring when he hit the ball close to the line at speed, only to be tackled short. But just one play later, Joel Reddy would finally get the Rabbitohs on the board when the winger planted his hand on an impossibly fast moving ball courtesy of an Adam Reynolds kick. Reynolds wasted no time converting from the touch-line with a beautiful kick to make it 18-6.
But with the clock winding down, a penalty to Penrith 18 metres from the uprights saw Koroisau kick his second goal of the night to take the score out to 20-6 to round out the match.
Panthers 20 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Whare, Peter Wallace, Waqa Blake, tries; Apisai Koroisau, 2 goals)
Rabbitohs 6 (Joel Reddy, tries; Adam Reynolds 1 goal)