Craig Cauchi reviews the second qualifying final between Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Stephen Crichton (8)
Goals: Nathan Cleary (9, 28, 40)
Tries: Cody Walker (24), Jaxson Paulo (43)
Goals: Adam Reynolds (3, 26, 34, 64)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)
2 pts – Thomas Burgess (Rabbitohs)
1 pt – Keaon Koloamatangi (Rabbitohs)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The opening exchange of this match was everything finals footy is about. The Rabbitohs were out of the block with a penalty goal and against any other side they would have crossed for a try but the Panthers defence managed to scramble to deny Cody Walker. Blake Taffe’s first opportunity to prove he could handle Cleary’s towering bombs got off to a terrible start with a mistake and the next Cleary kick led to the first try of the match. Cleary’s grubber was kicked hard along the ground but the curve allowed Paul Momirovski to jump over the dead ball line and knock it back for Stephen Crichton. In the blink of an eye ten minutes of the match was gone. Both sides fatigued as they went set-for set and the Rabbitohs were the first to take advantage with Dane Gagai bouncing off a number of tackles to break the line and pass back on the inside for Cody Walker to give them back the lead. It didn’t last long though as the Panthers converted a penalty goal to level the scores. It looked like the Rabbitohs were going into halftime with a two point lead – off the back of another penalty goal – but the Panthers kept the ball alive in the final play of the half and from the passage earned a penalty for Nathan Cleary to lock the scores up at halftime.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 10 South Sydney Rabbitohs 10Embed from Getty Images
A high tackle penalty gave the Rabbitohs a chance straight after the break and it soon turned to joy as their backline combined to send Jaxson Paulo over and return them to the lead. The Rabbitohs continued to give the Panthers chances to score through mistakes and poor penalties but their defence never dropped in intensity. The Panthers swung the ball from side to side but there were as many Rabbitohs players in the frame pushing hard to deny the Panthers on a number of occasions. A crusher penalty was blown against Isaah Yeo and Adam Reynolds extended the Rabbitohs lead to six. The Rabbitohs were unable to put the match out of reach but their defence continued to hold strong, keeping the Panthers at bay until fulltime and booking their week off.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 10 vs South Sydney 16
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Mitch Kenny (Panthers), Isaah Yeo (Panthers)