A spirited Rabbitohs U/20s outfit would lose out to the first-placed Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium tonight by four points after leading the entire game.
The Penrith Panthers got things underway at their home ground to kick off Round six of the 2017 NYC tournament. Blake Manowski lined up as hooker for the Rabbitohs squad after the late withdrawal of Phoenix Hunt.
The opening sets would see each side getting the feel of their opposition until the Rabbitohs grabbed the first good chance of the match after forcing the repeat set in the 5th minute.
Ill-discipline from the Panthers resulted in a penalty that created enough pressure for the Rabbitohs to snatch the early lead with Gabe Hamlin crashing over to score in the 8th minute. Doueihi would convert to give the Rabbitohs a 6-0 lead.
Forcing another repeat set, the Rabbitohs would strike again soon when Beau Cordtz found a gap in the Panthers line after a quick shift to the right edge in the 10th minute. Doueihi converted again to double the lead. Rabbitohs 12 – 0 Panthers.
The Panthers would have their turn in the 16th minute to attack but a good Rabbitohs scramble would keep out some strong runs. The Rabbitohs would make their way out of danger after catching the Panthers offside.
The Rabbitohs would continue their attacking show with Doueihi and Cordtz combining in the 17th minute to score off a brilliant Doueihi grubber. The halfback converted to extend the Rabbitohs lead to 18-0.
The Panthers would find their groove after conceding three early tries to the Rabbitohs and would almost register points after crossing through Daniel Brown in the 34th minute. However, the Penrith winger would be disallowed the try through obstruction.
Another chance would be missed in the 35th minute as a Panthers player dropped the ball dead after charging the line from close range.
The young Rabbitohs would head into the sheds at half time with an 18 point lead.
The Panthers would strike first in the second half through Reed Izzard who punched through the Rabbitohs line from close range. Dean Blore would convert and the Panthers would claw it back to 18-6 after 45 minutes.
The Rabbitohs would re-group and strike back in the 50th minute through a dummy half run by Blake Manowski. Doueihi continued his perfect night on the boot and the Rabbitohs restored their 18-point buffer. Souths 24 – 6 Panthers.
The second half would prove a tit-for-tat affair with the Panthers hitting back through Stefano Hala for the third try of the second half. Blore would slot his second conversion of the night and the score would close to 24-12 after 60 minutes.
The new found momentum for the Panthers would drive them up field to register another try after a cross-field kick was re-gathered and offloaded to Richie Munchow to score in the 63rd minute. Blore would miss this conversion. Souths 24 – 16 Panthers.
Souths would step it up a gear and arrest the momentum but the lion’s share of the possession would remain with the Panthers as they chased the Rabbitohs lead.
However, the Panthers would close the gap again in the 75th minute through a show-and-go by five-eighth Dean Blore who would convert his own effort. The Panthers would sit just two points shy of the Rabbitohs at 24-22.
The game would come down to the last 30 seconds when the Panthers would snatch the win through fullback Caleb Aekins – the recipient of a quick, flat cut-out ball.
The first-placed Panthers would claim victory on home soil over the 14th-placed Rabbitohs… just.
Penrith 28 (Reed Izzard, Stefano Hala, Richie Munchow, Dean Blore, Caleb Aekins tries; Dean Blore 4 goals)
Souths 24 (Beau Cordtz 2, Gabe Hamlin, Blake Manowski tries; Adam Doueihi 4 goals)