Penrith Panthers have overcome a 14-0 half-time deficit to defeat South Sydney Rabbitohs at Panthers Stadium on Saturday.
It summer-type conditions it was South Sydney’s playmakers who gave coach Anthony Seibold a big chance of recording his first NRL victory. Cody Walker’s fourteen minute try, followed by Damien Cook’s four-pointer on the stroke of half-time set up a fourteen point lead. Greg Inglis’ HIA assessment and ultimate exit from the game coincided with the Panthers fight back. Trent Merrin and Waqa Blake tries got the Panthers within two points with fifteen to play. The injection of Tyrone Peachey at that point was the match-winning play, with the utility crossing in the final five minutes to give the club their second come from behind victory in 2018.
PANTHERS CARDIAC KIDS RETURN
It was a frustrating first forty for Panthers fans as their bogey side looked like they were going to pull off an upset. South Sydney seemed to be showing more resilience than the Parramatta Eels a week earlier, and it was going to take some extra effort to come back. They played patient footy and took advantage of Inglis missing in defence with Blake carving up out wide. Their off-season fitness regime is paying off in the early rounds with sides fatiguing in the final thirty.
ADAM DOUEIHI STRONG DEBUT
Despite the result South Sydney fans will be impressed with the debut of nineteen year old Adam Doueihi. The tall halfback had a solid game, a steadying figure in attack which allowed the likes of Walker and Cook to play their natural games. We’ve already seen what he can produce in the top grade during the televised trial matches against Wigan Warriors and their Charity Shield win against St George-Illawarra Dragons. Will Seibold make a call to keep him in the top grade ahead of Adam Reynolds? Penrith made a brave call on another teenager a little while back, being Nathan Cleary.
FORWARD BATTLE OF THE NIGHT
There was some big beef in both forward packs and this was highlighted by the battle of George Burgess up against James Fisher-Harris. You would be forgiven to think these two were in the boxing ring, fighting til the death. The fend by the Rabbitohs enforcer on JFH started things off. Fans were reaching for the popcorn after the Panther returned serve, lining up Burgess and putting him down on the canvass. It’s a shame both sides only play each other once during the regular season – it would have been great to see round two!
IS THERE ROOM FOR ROBBIE?
South Sydney’s effort against one of the competition heavyweights was far better than their trip to Perth and loss to the Warriors. For fifty minutes it looked like Seibold had the right balance with a good forward pack, a few playmakers and some lightning fast backs in Gagai, Inglis and Johnson. What does this mean for Robbie Farah, dispatched back to the North Sydney Bears Intrust Super Premiership side? Based on Damien Cook’s game, things are looking bleak for the 34 year-old former Tiger with 270-odd NRL games under his belt. It will be a good test of a rookie coach’s metal to resist the urge to play a veteran given his previous history with coaching staff.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“They didn’t let the scoreboard get into their head. If we had the scoreboard in our head, we would have got beat. We don’t want to be in that position but they took a bit of running down.” – Anthony Griffin (SMH)
PENRITH PANTHERS 18
Tries: Trent Merrin, Waqa Blake, Tyrone Peachey
Goals: Nathan Cleary 3
Drop Goals: n/a
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 14
Tries: Cody Walker, Damien Cook
Goals: Adam Doueihi 3
Drop Goals: n/a
Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 20 Dean Whare, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17 James Fisher-Harris, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 Trent Merrin. Interchange: 4 Tyrone Peachey, 11 Viliame Kikau, 14 Corey Harawira-Naera, 15 Sam McKendry
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Greg Inglis (c), 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Doueihi, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Sam Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14 Tyrell Fuimaono, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 George Burgess, 17 Tevita Tatola