On a frustrating night with extreme wet weather for a second week in a row, South Sydney wrestled their way past the Penrith Panthers in scoring an 18-2 win at SportingBet Stadium.
For South Sydney the night belonged to Nathan Merritt who became the all-time leading try scorer for South Sydney with his 53rd minute controversial try, surpassing Benny Wearing’s total of 144 set eighty-one years earlier, in 1933. Controversial for the fact in the lead-up that Greg Inglis pulled the wool over the referee’s eyes in getting up to play the ball, dropping the ball on top of Adam Docker and receiving the penalty. Penrith’s refusal to return the ball to South Sydney saw a further ten metre penalty. Moments later South Sydney were out to a 12-2 lead.
It was a tale of two halves and you could be excused to have a sore neck as the majority of play was at the northern end of the ground. In the first half Penrith threw the kitchen sink at South Sydney and came up without any result. Jamal Idris (15th minute), Josh Mansour (17th minute), Jeremy Latimore (28th minute) and James Segeyaro (30th minute) were all chances that Penrith had where South Sydney repelled by knocking the ball dead, or holding up the player over the line. Possibly Penrith could have led by twenty points at least had they converted opportunities into points.
Then the second half belonged to South Sydney, mainly because they were able to convert their very few opportunities. They applied the early pressure and scored twice within the first fifteen minutes. They also made the most of Mansour’s mistake in dropping a high ball that saw Kyle Turner score and secure victory for the visitors.
Penrith’s best opportunity in the final forty came with thirteen minutes remaining in the game when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak couldn’t handly a good ball from Dean Whare.
With the ball becoming a cake of soap after heavy rain at the beginning of the game, it’s fair to say ball handling wasn’t of the best quality. As the conditions improved, both sides tried to play a more expansive game.
South Sydney in victory were best served by Ben Te’o and Sam Burgess. John Sutton looked dangerous on a couple of occasions and Inglis was good at the back, snuffing out a late chance to Penrith youngster Dallin Watene-Zelezniak after a kick and chase. For the home side, Matt Moylan had a solid game at the back and Sika Manu caused some problems out wide for South Sydney.
South Sydney now move equal with Penrith on six points and face Canterbury in the Good Friday opening clash at ANZ Stadium. Penrith will be looking to get back in the winners circle against surprise National Rugby League leaders Gold Coast at home on Easter Monday.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Kirisome Auva’a, Nathan Merritt, Kyle Turner tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 2 (Jamie Soward goal)
SAM BURGESS CONTROVERSY
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Furious South Sydney officials have lodged a complaint to Penrith after Sam Burgess was struck in the face by a spectator as he left the field at the completion of the Rabbitohs’ 18-2 win over the Panthers on Friday.
A female supporter hit the England international forward just above the eye with a flag stick as he walked towards the change rooms.
Burgess didn’t sustain any injury and was in good spirits as he left the stadium, but declined to comment on the incident.
However, Sam’s mother Julie, who was watching the game that also involved her eldest son Luke and his younger sibling George, took to Twitter to vent her anger.
“Would love to meet the woman (I’m being kind) who hit Sam with a stick as he was leaving the pitch. Sorry Penrith people but that’s not OK,” she wrote.
LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES NOT TAKEN
There will be plenty of scrutiny about how Penrith couldn’t take their chances against South Sydney. Concern is that the boys aren’t ranking too well in scoring points this season. South Sydney were very good against the Dragons last week in only conceding one try late in the game. Remember the Rabbitohs are one of the teams expected to be potential premiers. We should reserve judgement for another day, where hopefully the boys get the chance to play dry weather footy.
POST MATCH PRESSURE
Here’s what Ivan had to say following our loss.