South Sydney out did the Panthers with an Adam Reynolds field goal as the clock ticked 79, but they were run close by the defiant young Mountain Men who refused to go away, finally succumbing to a 21-20 defeat when their short kick off went out after a failed tap-back play.
Brotherly love on show
The Burgesses against the Watene-Zelezniaks isn’t much of a contest size-wise but the Penrith brothers gave the British representatives and their Redfern men all they could handle, working for a fantastic try along with Te Maire Martin that gave the Panthers momentum in the first half. They continued to give Braidon Burns and Siosofa Takalai defensive headaches throughout the game but couldn’t get their team across the line: another set of brothers, three hundred and sixty kilograms of Burgess, helped ensure the Rabbitoh victory with their strong charges up the middle and offloading prowess.
Braidon burned on the spiralling highball
Nathan Cleary puts up a spiralling bomb. Braidon Burns doesn’t take it cleanly and it’s a scrum to the Panthers in some very good attacking territory. Now picture that again, and now just for posterity, twice more. Cleary’s kicks were a trump card for Penrith, forcing knock ons from the South Sydney young winger to the tune of four scrums. They could have done more with some of the brilliant attacking position they had – but footy’s a simple game and the Panthers worked out that putting up challenging kicks could be, surprisingly, a challenge for the winger – something fifteen other teams could pick up on.
Spine working for the Rabbitohs
Alex Johnston and Damien Cook are no 2014 Greg Inglis and Issac Luke but they’ve done a good job in the one and nine for the Red and Green this season. Cody Walker is probably an upgrade on their premiership winning five eighth in Luke Keary and meshes as well with Adam Reynolds as any of the best half-five eighth combos in the comp. Both halves took the pill across the stripe for a try at the foot of the mountains and if the South Sydney forwards can get their grunt back they’re a team to look out for.
Four members of the Penrith backline were 21 or under, with one of them (Nathan Cleary) still probably on his Green P’s – but that didn’t stop them from showing extreme maturity and mixing it with the big pigs in the NRL. South Sydney came in with representative stars peppered through their backs and forwards – but credit the inexperienced Penrith guns stepping to the plate and giving it a whack. Phil Gould has done a lot for that club and the promise that the youth players he’s overseen is showing – but in the short term they could do with some cool heads in the backline when things get tight. Two years from now the players on should be those cool heads – watch out.
Penrith Panthers 20
Tries: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Corey Narawira-Naera, Michael Oldfield
Goals: Nathan Cleary 4
South Sydney Rabbitohs 21
Tries: Sam Burgess, Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds
Goals: Adam Reynolds 4
Field Goals: Adam Reynolds