Penrith’s winning record at home for the 2014 season has been shattered after tonight’s 18-2 loss to South Sydney.
Tonight’s clash was always going to be a battle of the forwards with Souths’ Burgess Brothers up against Penrith’s Bash Brothers. There had been plenty of hype through the week about the big hitters on both sides and tonight would showcase the best of the best.
Ivan Cleary made a couple of changes before kick-off, with Brent Kite returning from injury and starting at prop to give Nigel Plum a bit of a rest. That saw Sam Mckendry drop back to the bench along with Sika Manu, while Lewis Brown was promoted to the starting side.
Right on cue, the rain started to bucket down a few minutes before kickoff, turning the field into a soggy mess and sending hundreds of umbrellas and ponchos exploding into action amongst the 11674 strong crowd .
The weather and a clumsy penalty right in front of the posts didn’t get the Panthers off to the best start. Seven minutes into the match, Souths put a kick through the uprights for the first points of the game.
Then in the next play Jamie Soward was placed on report for a hit on Nathan Merritt that saw him hit the deck.
We came agonisingly close to scoring 15 minutes in, when Jamal Idris got the ball and drove hard at the line, before being tackled a few millimetres from the line! That seemed to reinvigorate our boys and for the next few sets, we kept the ball up our end and hammered away at our line. But the rain was wreaking havoc with the ball play and both sides were having trouble hanging onto anything for more than a couple of passes.
With 12 minutes until half time, back to back penalties against Souths got Penrith up to their 10m line and then a misguided kick from a goal line drop out gave the home side the chance to even the score. Soward took the kick from in front, and the score went to 2-2.
For the remaining few minutes of the half the Panthers dominated possession and only let Souths get near their line once.
HALF TIME: 2-2
Souths came out firing in the second half and took full advantage of a couple of poor decisions by the Panthers in the opening minutes. A goal line drop out handed them back to back sets and catching our defenders off guard along the right side, the ball found debutant Kirisome Auva’a in some space and he ran over the top of a couple of our boys and rolled over the line to score. The kick was waived away so the Bunnies took a 6-2 lead, with 45 minutes down.
It was at this point that the Rabbitoh’s kicked into gear and stepped their game up a few notches. They dominated possession for the next 10 minutes before getting their second try. After drawing our defenders in on the right side, a quick ball out to Nathan Merritt saw him step around Josh Mansour and over the line in the corner. This time the conversion was on target and South Sydney extended their lead to 12-2.
Over the next 15 minutes Penrith had several attempts at scoring but ball fumbles cost us the points on at least three occasions. Souths were out-attacking and out-defending us and it wasn’t long before another Panthers mistake handed them their next try.
The Bunnies put a high ball up to the right side of the field where Josh Mansour went for it but missed, and the ball bounced back to Greg Inglis who offloaded to Kyle Turner in some space, and he ran the ball over the line. The kick from in front was good, and with 7 minutes on the clock, Souths took an 18-2 lead.
The rest of the game was played out up our end as we desperately tried to put more points on the board, but the Souths defence was impenetrable and they held us out until the siren sounded.
FULL TIME: 18-2 Souths