A red-hot Rabbitohs outfit have beaten the Panthers 42-14 at ANZ Stadium.
The boot of Souths halfback Adam Reynolds tormented the visitors all afternoon, while winger Alex Johnston scored five tries, as the home side dealt the Panthers’ finals chances a major blow.
The away side would take the lead in the seventh minute after a penalty in the ruck allow Nathan Cleary to kick his side ahead.
They extended their lead in the 11th minute thanks to a sublime move on the right wing. Matt Moylan released Dean Whare who in turn found Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to streak away down the flank before finding his captain back on the inside with an inch perfect cut-out pass. Cleary slotted his second conversion to stretch the lead out to 8-0.
A high shot from Sam Burgess in the 16th minute caused a scuffle in which he and Watene-Zelezniak would be sent to the sin bin despite little evidence of wrongdoing by the Panthers winger.
The fortune for the home side continued midway through the half when a wayward pass fell for Johnston to intercept and run 85 metres for his side’s first points. Adam Reynolds’ conversion brought the score back to 8-6.
From then it would be one-way traffic for the Rabbitohs after taking the lead on the half hour mark thanks to Braidon Burns’s acrobatic effort. Reynolds was given time and space to place his chip accurately to the corner for the onrushing Burns to leap above Josh Mansour and fall over the line. Reynolds added the extras to make it 12-8.
Two tries in as many minutes to Johnston put the hosts out of reach by the break. His first from a Reynolds kick gave the Souths a double-digit lead, before his third on the siren completed his hat trick. Reynolds would convert both tries for a 24-8 lead.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 – 8 Penrith Panthers
Johnston’s afternoon got better immediately following the restart when he gathered in Reynolds’ cross-field kick to claim his fourth try of the afternoon. The conversion was again successful to make it 30-8.
Another assist from the boot of Reynolds handed Burgess his first try after a Bunker referral, before Johnston crossed over for his fifth inside an hour. Reynolds would convert both to make it 42-8.
A late consolation try to Mansour made little difference as the Rabbitohs sealed a comfortable 42-14 win.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 42 – 14 Penrith Panthers