The NYC Penrith Panthers extended their lead atop the ladder disposing of the South Sydney Rabbitohs 32-6 at a chilly Pepper Stadium.
A 12th consecutive victory set up by five consecutive first half tries to the Panthers.
Consecutive penalties in the opening two minutes providing an ideal start for the Panthers following the bye last week.
But it was the Rabbitohs who found the try-line first with some smart play at dummy half down the left putting winger Tom Perrin over untouched. Chad O’Donnell unable to convert as South Sydney took a 4-0 lead after six minutes.
It was a slow start for the Panthers with the wind holding back a side already hampered by players promoted to the NRL and NSW Cup sides.
The Panthers eventually did find their stride though in the 17th minute as Caleb Aekins grounded a well weighted grubber down the left. Jarome Luai hitting the uprights with his conversion attempt as Penrith drew level.
It wouldn’t stay that way for long though as Luai threw a dummy 10 metres out before stepping and weaving his way over the line on 25 minutes to put the Panthers on top. The try scorer converting to make it 10-4 to Penrith.
Some excellent kicking on the last and determined defending was giving the Panthers the edge as they crossed over for their third try with 34 minutes played. NYC debutant Billy Burns shrugging past his tackler close to the line as he touched down on the left. Luai unable to convert as Penrith led 14-4.
With a minute left in the half, the Panthers would add one last try to their half-time tally as Wayde Egan threw a convincing dummy close to the line to create a gap and find his way to the try-line. Luai converting to make it 20-4 to Penrith at the break.
Half-time- Panthers 20-4
Poor handling from the Rabbitohs after the break gave the Panthers an early sniff of the try-line after half-time and they weren’t to be denied a fifth try on 45 minutes. Thomson Tuigamala charging his way over the line and somehow getting the ball down with tacklers all over him. No mistake with the kick from Luai as Penrith extended their lead to 26-4.
South Sydney would issue their reply to 26 unanswered Panthers points with a nice flick pass from Cameron Murray putting Campbell Graham over down the right. O’Donnell unable to convert as Penriths lead was cut to 26-8 on 52 minutes.
On 62 minutes, Daniel Brown did well to win a bomb 20 metres out from the Rabbitohs line and found Braidon Burns who had no trouble finding his way to the try line. Luai making no mistake with the conversion as Penrith went ahead 32-8.
A scuffle with 66 minutes played ended badly for the Panthers with Cowen Epere sin binned for his involvement in the incident as Penrith were reduced to 12 men for ten minutes.
The Panthers somehow keeping the Rabbitohs out with a player less despite not scoring any points of their own in the final minutes to wrap up the victory.
Fulltime - Panthers 32-8