An impressive performance from South Sydney halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds has seen the Rabbitohs claim a thrilling 21-20 win over Penrith in dramatic fashion at Pepper Stadium in front of over 15,000 fans.
The Panthers made a shaky start to this one with a Michael Oldfield pass finding the ground and seeing Adam Reynolds kick Souths out to an early 2-0 lead. Off another penalty the Rabbitohs would strike again with Angus Crichton bursting through and linking with Sam Burgess to make it an early 8-0 deficit for the home side.
Nathan Cleary haunted former teammate Braidon Burns with a series of floating bombs all night and Penrith's first points came courtesy of that exact play with Te Maire Martin picking up the loose ball and finding Malakai Watene-Zelezniak who put his brother Dallin over for a try in the 14th minute.
The Panthers continued to gain momentum, denying Robert Jennings a try against his former side in the 23rd minute. Only minutes later they were rewarded when a great ball from Cleary sent Corey Harawira-Naera through for his second try in first grade. Cleary then extended his side's lead to six courtesy of a penalty goal before Walker sliced through late in the first half to lock things up.
It was a concerning start for Penrith in the second half with Walker finding space again and this time sending Reynolds over in the 45th minute. Both sides then continued to trade sets before John Sutton charged through a gaping hole only to be pulled up just short by Dylan Edwards.
Penrith continued to struggle to find metres late in the second half, with their only chances really come off some of Cleary's threatening bombs. It looked as if they were pretty much done for the night, with their attack looking relatively clunky in the South Sydney twenty, yet, a perfect ball from Martin found Dean Whare who passed it for Oldfield to cross out wide in the 75th minute. Cleary would kick the conversion from the sideline and a tense finish loomed.
Next week it does not get much easier for Penrith as they face defending premiers Cronulla at Pepper Stadium on Easter Sunday. Meanwhile the Rabbitohs play Canterbury in the Good Friday Classic at ANZ Stadium.