The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been defeated by the three-time defending premiers the Penrith Panthers in an eventful clash that saw nine tries scored and three players sent to the sin bin over the course of the 80 minutes.

The Rabbitohs got off to a strong start, scoring the first two tries of the game through Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson and Dean Hawkins.

It wasn’t enough to stop Penrith however, who dominated the remainder of the contest, scoring seven unanswered tries to finish 42-12 on top of South Sydney.

A hip drop tackle by Isaac Tago on Jye Gray saw the Rabbitohs with an early opportunity to attack the Panthers line against just six minutes into the game.

With Tago in the sin bin and Penrith down to 12 men, Souths were able to capitalise on their advantage through Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson, who crossed in the corner off a Cody Walker cut-out pass.

Izaac gets the first score

The Rabbitohs marched down field off the ensuing kick-off thanks to a 6-again call. They continued to apply the pressure on the 12-man Panthers, with Walker once again pulling the strings with a beautiful grubber to set Dean Hawkins up with the first try of his NRL career.

A string of six again calls and penalties resulted in Jai Arrow being sent for a stint in the sin bin. The Panthers were able to hit back against the 12-man Rabbitohs through Sunia Turuva, who crossed the stripe after a questionable pass from Brad Schneider.

The Panthers managed to maintain their momentum through their numbers advantage, extinguishing the Rabbitohs’ lead in the process through Schneider who scored untouched after a dummy and run close to the line.

Hawkins sustained a quad injury off the following kick-off, resulting in a reshuffle from Souths that saw Jack Wighton move into the halves and Cameron Murray shift out wide to the centres.

Souths certainly looked more likely once Arrow returned to the field. However, being back to their full complement of 13 players was not enough to stop Penrith gaining the lead before the break, with Luke Garner scoring in the 32nd minute to put his side ahead 18-12 in what would end up being the half-time score.

The second half began with more injury troubles for the Rabbitohs, with fullback Jye Gray succumbing to the ankle injury he sustained due to Tago’s first-half hip drop. The ensuing reshuffle saw 200-gamer Damien Cook shift to the unfamiliar position of fullback, while Peter Mamouzelos came off the bench to play hooker.

Both sides settled into a rhythm to start the second half. Each team had opportunities to attack, however an 18-minute stalemate ensued due to mistakes at crucial times. It was the Panthers who broke finally the second-half deadlock, with front-rower Lindsay Smith scoring in the 58th minute to extend the lead to 12. Taylan May then raced 80m in the 62nd minute off a 20m tap play which saw Souths with no one at home to stop the rampaging centre from scoring.

With Souths staring down the barrel of an 18-point deficit, things would go from bad to worse as Jacob Host copped the third sin-binning of the game due to a late challenge on Schneider. This was closely followed by Garner’s second try of the game, putting the match well and truly out of the Rabbitohs’ reach with a 36-12 scoreline and 11 minutes remaining on the clock. The Panthers managed one more try before fulltime, with Tago crossing in the 76th minute off a pass from Garner.

Hawkins chased it!

Match Snapshot

Play of the Game

Dean Hawkins’s first ever try in the NRL in the 9th minute was certainly something to behold. Cody Walker sent a grubber into the in-goal, which looked to be going dead before a spectacular summersault from Hawkins saw the halfback ground the ball just inches away from the dead ball line.

Hawkins chased it!

What’s Next?

The Rabbitohs will travel to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium to play their traditional rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons. Souths will be confident ahead of this one, after defeating the Dragons 28-6 in their annual Charity Shield clash in the pre-season.

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