You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Tass mania: Centre's late strike gets Bunnies home in thriller

The South Sydney Rabbitohs scored two tries in the final five minutes to down premiers Penrith 20-18 in a Thursday night classic at Accor Stadium.

After Latrell Mitchell grabbed his second of the game in the 75th minute to close the gap to two points it was Cody Walker laying on the match-winner for Isaiah Tass with a pearler of a pass with 90 seconds to play.

The try was especially sweet for Tass given that he had missed a crucial tackle in the lead-up to hat-trick hero Stephen Crichton's first four-pointer for the Panthers.

In a high-quality contest Crichton bagged all 18 points for the Panthers after taking over goalkicking duties from Nathan Cleary, who entered the game with a slight niggle in his groin but still came up with a number of big plays.

The Panthers fired the first shot down the left edge when Izack Tago found space and Campbell Graham was forced to come up with a trysaver on Dylan Edwards to keep Souths' line intact.

Can you believe this?

The Rabbitohs then had their first chance after Crichton's short dropout failed to go 10 metres but the premiers held firm.

Some Mitchell brilliance from his own end put the Rabbitohs on the front foot midway through the half and it was Damien Cook who cashed in with a try out of dummy half. Mitchell converted to make it 6-0.

The Rabbitohs had a golden opportunity to double their lead late in the half when they bundled Edwards into touch after he had taken a bomb but the Panthers' defence was rock solid for two sets and they came up the other end and made Souths pay.

Cook opens the scoring

A barnstorming run by Spencer Leniu laid the platform and the ball then came right to Crichton, who left Tass in his wake to open Penrith's account with less than a minute to go in the half. Crichton's conversion made it 6-6.

The Panthers took the lead through a penalty goal in the 49th minute after Mitchell's short dropout failed to go 10 metres and Crichton knocked over the easy two points.

A penalty against Jai Arrow for a crusher tackle then put Penrith on the attack but a trysaver by Mitchell on Sunia Turuva kept the Souths line intact.

In the 57th minute Mitchell stamped his class at the attacking end when he took a pass from Walker and surged through three defenders to put the Rabbitohs back in front at 10-8.

With 15 minutes to play the Panthers looked to have regained the lead when the Rabbitohs made a mess of a Cleary grubber and Tago pounced but replays showed the centre had knocked on as he tried to ground the ball.

Crichton all class

A mistake by Mitchell on the next set invited the Panthers into the red zone again and Crichton finished off great lead-up work by Isaah Yeo, Cleary and Edwards to give the premiers a 12-10 lead.

Crichton then made it a hat-trick with nine minutes to play when he flew high for a Cleary bomb, the ball bounced off his shoulder into the in-goal and he fell on the loose ball to stretch the Panthers' lead to 18-10.

The Rabbitohs bounced back in the 75th minute when Mitchell grabbed his second off a Lachlan Ilias bomb and the margin was back to two points.

With time running out the Rabbitohs went left and produced a stunning match-winner through Tass after brilliant lead-up by Alex Johnston and Walker.

Match snapshot

  • Winger Sunia Turuva was a tackle busting machine for the Panthers, coming up with nine tackle breaks for the game.
  • Latrell Mitchell ran for 111 metres and had 14 tackle breaks for Souths. He also took his career points tally to 1003 points with two tries and two goals.
  • The Rabbitohs completed 22 of 24 sets in the first half at 91 per cent compared to the Panthers' 16 of 20 at 80 per cent.
  • Panthers centre Stephen Crichton has scored 10 tries in his past nine games against the Rabbitohs.
  • Rabbitohs forward Jai Arrow made a number of telling runs and finished the game with 107 metres from 12 hit-ups.

The Rabbitohs and Panthers kick-off Anzac Round

  • The Panthers' back three of Dylan Edwards, Brian To'o and Sunia Turuva combined for 511 metres from 50 runs.
  • Nathan Cleary came up with 23 tackles for the night including two telling trysavers on Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell in the closing minutes.
  • The Rabbitohs' last win over the Panthers at Accor Stadium was a 42-14 victory in Round 17, 2017.
  • Stephen Crichton scored all 18 points for Penrith and had 177 running metres and seven tackle breaks.
  • The Rabbitohs were playing their 200th game at Accor Stadium.

Mitchell too big, too strong

Play of the Game

Spencer Leniu put his stamp on the game in the shadows of half-time with a devastating charge down the left edge that put the Panthers in position to grab their opening try. The bench forward took a pass from Nathan Cleary and then left Michael Chee Kam, Lachlan Ilias and Campbell Graham in his wake on a 20-metre surge that set the Bunnies on their heels and Stephen Crichton did the rest. In 39 minutes of game time Leniu made 120 metres from 11 powerful hit-ups.

Crichton pounces on half-time

What They Said

"Even at 18-10 down I still feel like we had some footy left in us and just felt like we got bogged down a little bit in that end-to-end footy and Penrith were locking us in our end and we needed to play our way out of that and we did that really well. I thought our 6, 7 and 1 with 10 minutes to go were pretty good the way they connected and it was a pretty special try to win the game. Really happy to see Isaiah Tass get the reward for being resilient and staying in the frame and being on the end of that try." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou

Rabbitohs: Round 8

"It's a cruel game sometimes. We knew exactly what Souths were going to do [on that last play] and I thought we had it covered but we didn't quite wrap the ball up. It could have gone either way but it doesn't feel any better when I say that. Wins and losses come and go but what you are made of and the culture of our club, I'm still very proud of it, and tonight was no different. I couldn't begrudge them the victory either." - Panthers coach Nathan Cleary

Panthers: Round 8

What's Next

The Rabbitohs head to Brisbane in Round 9 for a blockbuster against the Broncos and should have Tevita Tatola back on deck. The Panthers are taking their home game against Wests Tigers to Carrington Park in Bathurst, a venue that has proved a happy hunting ground the past two seasons with wins over Newcastle in 2022 and Manly in 2021.

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.