The Canterbury Cup Panthers were out-enthused by South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-16 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
Despite leading 16-8 at half-time, Penrith went on to concede 28 unanswered points as they struggled without tireless forward Jed Cartwright and livewire Daine Laurie, who both failed to finish the game.
Sione Katoa was impressive in setting up the early advantage for Penrith, setting up a deceptive try and kicking a 40/20.
It came after Souths scored the first try of the game.
An early penalty marched them upfield and they quickly capitalised, Billy Brittain holding it up for Jacob Gagan who strolled through flimsy defence.
Mawene Hiroti guided the ball through from the sideline.
After a scintillating performance last week, Laurie continued his strong form by setting up the opening try of the afternoon for the Panthers.
The five-eighth took it up to the line and played it short for Jed Cartwright who sliced over on the left edge.
Falls couldn’t convert the try though, leaving the difference at two points.
A potential opportunity presented itself once more for Cartwright but his late offload hit the ground and was scooped up by Rabbitohs winger Leigh Higgins.
Kurt Falls desperately chased him down to prevent a certain try but a penalty moments later gifted Souths an extra two points.
When presented with a penalty on South Sydney’s line, the Panthers elected to take the tap and were rewarded.
Sione Katoa threw a clever ball from dummy-half to put Kaide Ellis over under the posts.
Katoa then nailed a 40/20 from the set after points to earn his side another full set close to the try line but the Panthers rushed a left-side raid and the ball sprayed over the sideline.
The Rabbitohs also squandered an opportunity moments later when Lyndon Hills took a quick tap off a penalty and caught the Panthers napping.
He raced through virtually unopposed before some late pressure forced a mistake as he went to dive over.
That desperation in defence paid off as Penrith went on to score off the seven-tackle set.
Falls took on the line on the last tackle, stepping his way through before spinning over and scoring next to the posts.
He converted his own try to push the lead out to eight points.
HALF-TIME: Panthers 16 Rabbitohs 8
Laurie wasn’t just impressing with the ball in hand. He was also hitting hard in defence and came up with a crucial one-on-one tackle on a runaway Connor Tracey to save what would have been a certain try.
It came at a cost though, the five-eighth limping off injured.
Having threatened for the opening stages of the half, Souths eventually cracked Penrith when a left-side raid ended with Hiroti going over in the corner.
He hit the posts though and was unable to convert his own try.
The Rabbitohs explored that same edge on the following set and once again found joy as Allan sliced through.
The conversion was waved away once more, leaving the score at 16-all with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Dylan O’Connor then pounced onto a last-tackle grubber to hand Souths the lead for the first time.
A panicked Penrith pushed the kick-off out on the full and the Rabbitohs were again camped on their line.
Brittain then shoved it on to Brock Gray who charged over for the home side. The successful conversion from Hiroti extended their buffer to 10.
The roll on continued on the next set as Tracey outpaced the Panthers defenders on the outside to score in the corner.
Souths were constantly finding holes through Penrith’s tired middle defence and O’Connor was the next beneficiary, running away to score his second and the final try of the match.
FULL-TIME: Panthers 16 Rabbitohs 36