The South Sydney Rabbitohs have fallen to a heavy defeat to the table-topping Penrith Panthers, going down 56 points to 12 at Apex Oval in Dubbo. The undefeated Panthers side were dominant from the opening whistle, running in 9 tries, with NSW halfback Nathan Cleary pulling the strings with a personal tally of 28 points.
It was the Panthers number 7 who opened the scoring following a line break by Matt Burton after just 4 minutes, and the signs were ominous early for the men in Red and Green.
The potent Panthers attack was in full swing from the get-go, scoring two tries in as many minutes; the first in the 12th minute through backrower Viliame Kikau, before his second-row partner Kurt Capewell matched it with a try of his own in the 14th. Cleary was dialed in for the conversion attempts from either touchline, and the score was quickly 16 - 0.
The Rabbitohs attack on the other hand faltered, failing to convert in multiple trips down on the Panthers line.
Local boy Matt Burton scored the Panthers 4th and 5th tries; the first came after they were awarded a penalty close to the Rabbitohs line for Kikau being shepherded off the ball, and the second when he out lept the Rabbitohs right edge to bring down a high ball. Cleary added the extras on both occasions making it a 28 point lead for the Panthers.
Match: Rabbitohs v Panthers
Round 11 -
Venue: Apex Oval, Dubbo
The Rabbitohs got over the line in the 36th minute when ex Panther Josh Mansour crossed in the corner following a backline move featuring Cody Walker and the returning Latrell Mitchell. Reynolds converted from touch to make it 28 points to 6, but the Panthers weren't done scoring in the first forty, with Nathan Cleary adding a late penalty conversion to their tally bringing the scores to 30 points to 6 at the halftime break.
The Panthers opened their second-half account the same way they finished the first, with a Nathan Cleary penalty goal followed by Matt Burton grabbing a hat-trick a few minutes later, after a bomb from Cleary's boot into the sun was allowed to bounce.
It was Cleary again who scored his second try of the match and his 22nd point with his successful conversion, before Cody Walker managed to get one back for the Rabbitohs, skipping back inside the Panthers defense off of his right foot to score next to the posts a few minutes later.
The Panthers 8th try came through Brian To'o after the Penrith side were awarded multiple penalties attacking the Rabbitohs line, and their 9th was scored by Stephen Crichton to finish the route.
The Rabbitohs now have 6 days to turn it around before they face the Parramatta Eels on Saturday afternoon at Stadium Australia.