After a resounding victory over the Newcastle Knights in Round 20, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, defeated the Penrith Panthers 20-16 in Round 21.
Despite gaining significant confidence through a dominant display against the Newcastle Knights in Round 20, the Rabbitohs would be on high alert considering the Panthers cruised to victory against the red and green four weeks earlier in Round 17.
In a boost for the side leading into the clash, it was announced that Kyle Turner would come off the bench for his first NRL appearance since injuring his neck in the NRL All Stars pre-season fixture.
Additionally, the occasion would see skipper, Greg Inglis, chalk up his 100th appearance in the red and green after making his debut for Souths in Round 1 of the 2011 season. This feat would also see him join an exclusive club of 19 players that have represented two clubs in 100 games or more.
Front-rower, Tim Grant, would also receive his first opportunity to face off against his former club after missing the previous encounter between the two sides.
The Sunday afternoon encounter would prove to be an arm-wrestle, as both sides fought until the very end, ensuring that the Rabbitohs would have to work hard to claim the 20-16 victory.
The early stages of the affair was plagued with errors, as both the Rabbitohs and Panthers made spilt opportunities close to their own try-lines. Despite the attacking field-position, neither side was able to capitalise.
It would not be until the 15th minute that the deadlock would be broken, as Panthers rake, James Segeyaro, shot out of dummy-half close to the Rabbitohs line, catching the defence napping and diving over for the opening four-pointer of the afternoon. Jamie Soward had no issues in adding the extra two points, providing Penrith with a 6-0 lead.
Momentum continued to swing in favour of the Panthers, as an error-riddled period of play saw the men from the foot of the mountains gain the upper hand. Penrith made the most of their dominance, as Bryce Cartwright barged his way over the line and showed great strength, wrestling with two defenders to plant the ball down. Soward converted to take the score to 12-0 in favour of the Panthers.
With 14 minutes remaining in the second half, Kyle Turner entered the playing field and provided South Sydney with an instant lift, as Luke Keary delivered a perfectly executed no-look short-ball to John Sutton, who showcased his footwork and strength close to the line to open the Rabbitohs account for the afternoon. Reynolds added the extras narrowing the gap to 12-6.
It was not long before the Rabbitohs pounced once more, this time off the back of a Panthers error close to their try line. Dylan Walker pounced on a loose ball and spread it to Alex Johnston out wide, with the winger adding another try to his season tally. Reynolds had no problem in turning four into six, levelling the scores at 12 apiece heading into the break.
On the resumption, there was concern for Kyle Turner, as the Rabbitohs back-rower suffered a head clash with Penrith’s Jeremy Latimore in the opening minutes of the second period of play. The returning forward was able to walk from the field with the assistance of trainers, resulting in a rousing reception from the crowd.
A penalty close to the Panthers line as a result of a high-shot on John Sutton, saw the Rabbitohs opt for the two points, with Reynolds adding the extras with ease. The successful kick provided South Sydney with their first lead of the game, setting up a 14-12 score line in favour of the men in red and green.
With infrequent attacking opportunities in the second half, the Rabbitohs switched into gear close to the Panthers’ line with 15 minutes on the clock. A slick shift of the ball to the right saw Souths create an overlap and score courtesy of centre Walker. Reynolds held his nerve and converted the try to provide his team with a 20-12 lead.
The Panthers weren’t dead and buried yet though, as they rolled the dice and produced some magic, travelling 60 metres on their final tackle play, with Lewis Brown eventually crashing over out wide. The try remained unconverted, leaving the score at 20-16 and providing the Rabbitohs with the win.