Brendan Wood reviews the Penrith Panthers win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the second preliminary final.
Penrith Panthers 32
Tries: Api Koroisau (37), Brian To’o (40), Spencer Leniu (45), Izaak Tago (55), Nathan Cleary (78)
Goals: Nathan Cleary (38, 40, 46, 64, 79)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Tries: Cody Walker (12), Richie Kennar (19)
Goals: Latrell Mitchell (14, 20)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The second preliminary final of 2022 kicked off with plenty of emotion between last year’s grand finalists.
After both sides wrestled to gain the ascendancy in the opening 10 minutes, it was Cody Walker who drew first blood. He dived on a loose ball in the in-goal after the Panthers knocked down an offload from Mark Nicholls.
It wasn’t long before the Rabbitohs had their second try, when Richie Kennar finished off a backline shift to put the Rabbitohs up by 12. The Panthers had to respond quickly, and they did.
A towering bomb from Nathan Cleary was too much for Taane Milne, as he dropped the ball cold. Cleaning up the scraps, Jarome Luai put Charlie Staines over for a try, but the bunker overturned the decision due to an contentious obstruction.
Despite being denied by the Rabbitohs several times, the injection of Api Koroisau was the difference for the Panthers. A quick play-the-ball from Viliame Kikau gave Koroisau an opening to accelerate into space and slide over the line.
In the last seconds of the half, Campbell Graham knocked on and the ball went straight to Brian To’o. He bumped off Cody Walker and sprinted away for a try to level the scores at halftime.
The second half began with the Panthers continuing to surge. A charge down from Viliame Kikau laid the platform for Spencer Leniu to score off a Nathan Cleary kick.
10 minutes later, it was Cleary’s halves partner Jarome Luai who showed off his kicking game when he setup Izaak Tago for a try. Now trailing by 12, the Rabbitohs struggled to dig themselves out of trouble as the Panthers kept piling on the pressure.
Rubbing salt into their wounds, Taane Milne was sent off for a swinging arm that collected Spencer Leniu high.
With the man advantage, Nathan Cleary added a penalty goal and scored a try of his own. This was the final nail in the Rabbitohs coffin, as the Panthers secured a place in the grand final against the Eels next week.
PLAYER OF THE FINALS POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers), 2 pts – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 1 pt – Dylan Edwards (Penrith Panthers)
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