Penrith Panthers have been left to rue a missed opportunity in the Harold Matthews Cup, giving up a 24-12 lead with seven minutes remaining to draw 24-all against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at BlueBet Stadium.
An error by Souths from the Panthers first attacking kick presented the home side with perfect field position in the opening minutes. A shift to the right from the ensuing set saw Cooper Hale open the scoring inside three minutes.
They went close to scoring twice shortly after but were denied by errors both times. The Rabbitohs made them pay, going the length of the field to score in the next set, locking the scores at 6-all.
A Harry Wald try from a slick cut-out pass put the Panthers back in front nine minutes before half time.
Strong defence from the Panthers in the dying minutes of the half saw them hold onto the 12-6 lead until the break.
The Panthers were unable to repeat the dose in the opening minutes of the second half, conceding a try following repeat sets to bring the scores back to 12-all.
The Panthers took back the lead in the 44th minute when a good short ball sent Kye Raven over under the posts.
That gave the Panthers the momentum and they charged down the field in the following set, scoring under the posts again through Charbel Kheirallah.
Penrith’s defence was again put under pressure following repeat sets, and despite Wald booting a drop out 65m, the Rabbitohs were able to capitalise when the Panthers failed to clean up a grubber. The conversion brought the score back to 24-18 with seven minutes left.
The Rabbitohs scored again with 90 seconds left, with Daniel Lua diving over on the last next to the posts. Matt Humphries converted to bring scores level at 24-all.
The Panthers opted for a short kick-off inside the final 20 seconds, but kicked out on the full, giving the Rabbitohs an opportunity to kick the penalty goal from halfway to steal the win. The kick hit the upright, leaving the teams to share the points.