Panthers fall just short of miraculous comeback victory.
For the second time in as many games the South Sydney Rabbitohs nearly coughed up a huge half-time lead, as they clung on to beat the Penrith Panthers 44-32 at Centrebet Stadium.
Leading comfortably by 18 at half-time, Souths were given a mighty scare when a superstar-less Panthers side closed to within two before late tries sealed the Rabbitohs’ third win this season.
Despite being played in stifling conditions neither side agreed to a drinks break with Souths captain Michael Croker saying both sides spent plenty of time behind the posts.
“We wouldn’t want a drinks break – and we didn’t need one with all those tries scored anyway,” Croker told News.com.au
With Souths leading 34-16 at the break, the Panthers needed a spark and it came in the form of new recruit James Segayero, who started the comeback in the 64th minute when he scored his second try for the game, with Penrith clawing its way back to 34-26.
With 10 minutes remaining Panthers centre Wes Naiqama crossed and the home fans sensed they might see one of the best comebacks in recent NRL history.
But the fairytale for Penrith was dashed when Souths’ backrower Ben Te’o and try-scoring machine Nathan Merritt crossed late to snatch the win away from the men in black.
The victory keeps the Rabbitohs’ perfect record intact so far this season and sets up a blockbuster clash in round four against the Canterbury Bulldogs, who are expected to recall superstar fullback Ben Barba.
Souths’ Sam Burgess said his side will have plenty to work on this week, saying the side cannot expect to score 44 points against a disciplined Bulldogs outfit.
“The Bulldogs have been defending well and competing well. And there are a few of our players who aren’t quite doing enough,” Burgess said.