What’s that old saying again? DEFENCE WINS PREMIERSHIPS
By James Cusack
A cracking game at the foot of the mountains greeted viewers as Souths make it three wins on the trot defeating Panthers 22-18.
In what was a back and forth game the Bunnies defence proved to be the difference in the end.
The visitors began the night superbly with Kyle Turner steamrolling Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary in the 2nd minute to score the first try of the evening.
Penrith, to their credit, fought back with their big men James Fisher-Harris and Viliame Kikau causing headaches up the middle of the field.
Dane Gagai used his footy smarts to offload the ball to Corey Allan in the corner to score Souths second try of the night.
Adam Reynolds missed the conversion in what is a down year so far in terms of his goal kicking percentage.
Souths forwards were lucky not to be sent to the sin bin in the dying stages of the first half as they gave away a deliberate penalty right in front of the posts.
Cleary was successful in the penalty attempt and the half time score saw Souths leading 10-2.
All throughout the second half it felt like the Panthers would run over Souths big men as they had made more than 40 tackles in the first half.
James Maloney was in the right place in the right time to score underneath the black dot to cut the lead to 2 points.
Souths Captain Sam Burgess in the lead up to the try went off the field for a HIA assessment as the Panthers looked to run away with the game.
If you had to pick your five-eighth for NSW at the minute it would be neck and neck between Cody Walker and Roosters Luke Keary.
I say this as Walker continued his try scoring form side stepping the Penrith defence to score his seventh try of the season to make the score 16-8 with 25 minutes left to play making it very hard for Brad Fittler not to select him.
Penrith didn’t go away in front of their 15,000 strong crowd as centre Dallin Watene-Zelezniak pounced on a grubber from Maloney to cut the deficit to four points.
With supporters from both sides on the edge of their seats with 10 minutes to go Penrith hearts sunk when once again Walker broke through the defence and put Gagai over untouched to put the Bunnies 10 points ahead.
A try from Panthers forward Kikau with three minutes to go didn’t make life comfortable for Souths players and supporters as he bulldozed over.
Kikau will be something special if he isn’t already.
Souths hung on to leave Panthers Stadium with the two competition points as Penrith continue to search for their third win of the season.
Bennett’s influence on Souths there for all to see
Penrith smashed the Bunnies in all of the stats for the night. Here are just two for you: 1890 run metres to 1426 in favour of the Panthers and Souths making 46 more tackles. This is equivalent to eight more sets (well two tackles short). Bennett’s defence work is on show, as last year Souths wouldn’t have won this game.
Plenty of positives for the Panthers
Halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney had their best games of the season along with many other payers. Five forced dropouts and pinpoint kicking from Cleary on last tackle was great to see as pressure mounts on their spots in Origin. Hooker Wayde Egan also stood out, as his dummy-half play was superb all night.
Post Gould era starts off with a loss
With ex-General Manager Phil Gould’s well-publicized exit from the club earlier in the week Penrith would have been hoping to get a much-needed win on the board. This didn’t happen though you feel their season is back on track and there will be no more off the field distractions in the future.
Flying under the radar, just the way they like it
Most pundits are talking Roosters and Storm as the two clear Premiership favourites for 2019. Not many are talking about the Bunnies and that’s the way they would want it, especially Bennett. Next weeks game against Brisbane will be talked about all week as Seibold makes his return to ANZ Stadium.
South Sydney 22
Tries: Kyle Turner, Corey Allan, Cody Walker, Dane Gagai
Goals: Adam Reynolds 3/5
Penrith Panthers 18
Tries: James Maloney, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Viliame Kikau
Goals: Nathan Cleary 3/4
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
1. Alex Johnston 2. Corey Allan 3. Kyle Turner 4. Dane Gagai 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 14. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Cameron Murray Interchange: 8. George Burgess 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ethan Lowe 17. Liam Knight
1. Caleb Aekins 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 4. Waqa Blake 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Wayde Egan 10. Tim Grant 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Isaah Yeo 13. James Fisher-Harris 14. Sione Katoa 15. Liam Martin 16. Moses Leota 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard