Heading out west to Penrith on the weekend, the South Sydney Rabbitohs Pathways sides came away with some impressive results against one of the benchmarks of the junior grades.
NSW Cup Round 2: Penrith Panthers 30 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 20
The South Sydney Rabbitohs NSW Cup side's gutsy effort saw them come within a try of defeating the Penrith Panthers at Panthers Stadium, before falling short 30-20 in an entertaining contest.
Without a number of players who featured in the NRL match, and down to their third-string halves, the Rabbitohs could have made plenty of excuses but took the Premiers right down to the wire.
After the hosts opened with two quick tries, the Red and Green opened through backrower Ethan O'Neill, who collected his second try in as many weeks, before the Panthers raced to a 22-6 lead at the break.
Not deterred by the scoreline, the Rabbitohs rallied with a quarter of the match remaining with two quickfire tries to Captain Tom Carr, and although the Panthers took an eight-point lead, a four-pointer to backrower Ben Lovett gave the side a glimmer of hope in the dying stages.
With minutes remaining, the home side pounced under the posts to seal their victory, but despite the result, it was certainly an impressive performance according to Rabbitohs Head of Elite Pathways and Development, Joe O'Callaghan.
“Everyone knows the injury situation we have at the moment and the team that’s most affected is the NSW Cup," O'Callaghan said.
“We are pretty undermanned at the moment and we have a very young team, but the resilience they showed in the second half showed that it really means something to them.
“We took on last year’s Premiers - they have a lot of depth and they showed the way they hung on why they were the benchmark.
“The grind and resilience the players showed to nearly win it is something they have to take into next week and hopefully they get a few troops back within the next fortnight."
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will face arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters this Sunday at Wentworth Park in Glebe for the first time since 2005 in the NSW Cup.
Jersey Flegg Cup Round 2: South Sydney Rabbitohs 17 def Penrith Panthers 16
The South Sydney Rabbitohs Jersey Flegg sealed a resounding 17-16 victory over last year's Premiers, with a field goal securing the two points in a frantic match at Penrith Stadium.
In a see-sawing contest, the home side opened the scoring before Carson Caho struck back for the Cardinal and Myrtle, and while the Panthers edged ahead soon after, a try to Jaxson Rahme saw the Rabbitohs level the scores at 10-all.
With a minute remaining in the first half, a field goal to halfback Joseph Nohra proved to be vital as the visitors headed into the sheds with a one-point advantage.
Winger Deijon Leugaimafa scored the first from the break before a penalty goal saw the lead extend to seven, with the hosts striking late to bring the scoreline back to just a solitary point.
But after showing plenty of tenacity throughout the second half, the Rabbitohs' hard work paid off as they hung on to record a famous 17-16 win and open their account for 2023.
The Jersey Flegg face the Sydney Roosters at Wentworth Park, Glebe on Sunday afternoon, kicking off proceedings at 1:30pm.
Harvey Norman Womens Premiership Round 6: Bye
The South Sydney Rabbitohs Harvey Norman Womens Premiership side enjoyed a well-deserved bye during Round 6 following some promising performances in the opening weeks of their campaign.
The side will return to the field in Round 7 when they face the Central Coast Roosters at Redfern Oval this Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
SG Ball Cup Round 6: Penrith Panthers 40 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 22
It was another tough outing for the Rabbitohs SG Ball side, but it wasn't without an incredibly brave effort under plenty of adversity, downed by the Penrith Panthers 40-22 in very trying circumstances.
Up against the 2022 Premiers, the Rabbitohs rallied after a strong first half which saw them take an impressive 16-12 lead at the break thanks to tries from Ryan Casey, Dane Towns and Thomas Fletcher.
But disaster struck when their torrid run of injuries continued, down to just their starting thirteen heading into the second half with four players taken from the field.
Winger Cooper McLaren opened the scoring just minutes from resumption for a 22-12 lead, but yet another sidelined player saw the Rabbitohs down a man for the majority of the second stanza.
Although their opponents took advantage of the difference in numbers to claim victory, it was a courageous effort from the luckless Rabbitohs, who did an incredible job to keep the scoreline to within three converted tries.
The Rabbitohs SG Ball side returns to Redfern Oval this Saturday against rivals the Balmain Tigers in Round 7 at 12:00pm.
Tarsha Gale Cup Round 6: Penrith Panthers 28 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 0
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were dealt a tough lesson in Round 6 of the Tarsha Gale Cup, defeated by the Penrith Panthers 28-nil.
After a strong defensive effort in the first half, the Red and Green trailed by just eight points at the break in the sweltering Penrith heat and headed back onto the field still within the contest.
Unfortunately, errors ultimately cruelled the side throughout the match to halt their momentum, with the Panthers running away with four tries in the second stanza to take the two competition points.
In Round 7, the Rabbitohs Tarsha Gale Cup side will face the Sydney Roosters Indigenous Academy at Redfern Oval on Saturday at 1:30pm.
Harold Matthews Cup Round 6: South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 draw with Penrith Panthers 24
In a hard and fast contest at Penrith Stadium, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers were unable to be split at full-time in a 24-all draw in Round 6 of the Harold Matthews Cup.
The Rabbitohs struck back through Braethan Bilich after the Panthers opened the scoring, and while the hosts crossed the line next to take a half-time lead, the Cardinal and Myrtle were right in the contest.
Leveling up through Captain Daniel Lua right after the break, the Panthers looked to turn the screws with a two-try lead, but the resilient Rabbitohs hit back with a late flurry as Jacob Fong touched down before Lua bagged his brace.
With just one minute remaining on the clock, the Rabbitohs were cruelly denied victory after a penalty goal attempt 40 metres out saw the Steeden hit the posts, and with the flags waved away, their courageous effort just fell short as they settled for a 24-all draw.
The Harold Matthews Rabbitohs face the Balmain Tigers at Redfern Oval this Saturday afternoon and will take plenty of confidence from their last month of football when they take the field at 10:30am.
Lisa Fiola Cup, Under 16s and Under 18s Mens Development Sides
It was an impressive display from the Under 16s and Under 18s Mens Development Sides, with both teams recording commanding victories over Penrith, while the Rabbitohs Lisa Fiola Cup (Womens Under 17s) side took the field for the first time in 2023.
The Under 16s Rabbitohs claimed a dominant 36-12 victory over Penrith, scoring nine tries to three, while the Under 18s had a similarly impressive outing over the Panthers, winning 24-12 in a six tries to three victory, with no goal-kicking attempts made in either match.
The Lisa Fiola Cup Rabbitohs were bested in a physical match against the Penrith Panthers 40-18, and will be out to showcase their skills throughout the remainder of the four-game participation competition, with a number of players looking to make the step up to the Tarsha Gale Cup program in 2024.
Both the women's teams had a weekend of learning, and the positive results from the men's games make me believe that we are going in the right direction to have our pathways to be quite competitive in the future.
The Rabbitohs Pathways sides will face off against traditional rivals this week in the Sydney Roosters and their affiliated sides as well as the Balmain Tigers.
The NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg sides kick off Round 3 against the Roosters at Wentworth Park in Glebe, with the Rabbitohs taking on their bitter rivals upon their return to the NSW Cup for the first time since 2005.
Saturday will be an action-packed day as four of the Pathways sides take the field at Redfern Oval in Round 7 of their respective competitions with the Harold Matthews kicking off at 10:30am followed by the SG Ball at 12pm, while the Tarsha Gale Cup takes the field at 1:30pm before the Harvey Norman Womens Premiership side faces the Central Coast Roosters at 3pm.
Rabbitohs Head of Elite Pathways and Development Joe O'Callaghan believes there are plenty of positives to take from last week's matches as the Womens and Junior Reps head into the back end of their respective seasons.
"Penrith has a very large catchment with a high participation rate, and is the benchmark across the pathways space, so there were plenty of positives to take from across the weekend," he said.
"Both the women's teams had a weekend of learning, and the positive results from the men's games make me believe that we are going in the right direction to have our pathways to be quite competitive in the future."