Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Nathan Merritt has added his name to the South Sydney history books in his side's 18-2 victory over the Penrith Panthers at Sportingbet Stadium. In wet conditions the Rabbitohs winger, notched up his 145th try to surpass Benny Wearing's highest try scoring record which has stood at 144 since 1933.
The rain stormed across Penrith just as proceeding kicked off, which saw the 11,674 in attendance dash for cover. Points would become a premium in the first half as the Steeden become slippery to handle with 13 errors racked up.
Both sides took penalty goals on offer when presented. Rabbitohs through Adam Reynolds converted his opportunity after 6 minutes, while the Panthers took theirs through Jamie Soward mid-way through the opening 40 minutes.
After a scrappy half, both teams headed for cover in the sheds locked at 2-all.
A turn in momentum saw the Rabbitohs go on a roll to post three tries in the second half.
Former Melbourne Storm junior, Kirisome Auva'a was presented a chance with the Rabbitohs tonight as he made his NRL debut for the club. He made it a night to remember as he crossed with a charging run into a hole off a Greg Inglis short pass. South Sydney extended their lead to 6-2 after 45 minutes.
The final points of the match came as another rookie, Kyle Turner, bolted into a hole again thanks to the skills of Man of the Match, Inglis. The Rabbitohs sealed the two premiership points, 18-2 over the Panthers.
Next week the Rabbitohs return to ANZ Stadium on Good Friday to clash with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Meanwhile on Easter Monday, the Panthers open up Sportingbet Stadium to host the Gold Coast Titans.
PENRITH PANTHERS (2)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
LATE MAIL: PANTHERS - Nigel Plum has been ruled out of tonight's match for Penrith. Brent Kite comes into the starting 13 with Sam McKendry shifting to the bench. Lewis Brown has been promoted to the second row from the bench, which pushes Sika Manu back interchange.
Welcome to Sydney's west as the Penrith Panthers host the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Sportingbet Stadium in one of two Friday Night games to kick off Round 6. The Panthers have a 2/2 winning record in 2014 at home, the Rabbitohs bounced back to some form last weekend after beating the Dragons.
An interesting encounter is on the cards and it all kicks off at 7:45pm
The players exiting the sheds now, the rain is pouring down now at Sportingbet Stadium, fans have gone hiding for covering under umbrellas and whatever they can find. Kick off moments away
We are UNDERWAY at Sportingbet Stadium as the Rabbitohs kick off to give the Panthers first use of the ball
2: First penalty of the match for a strip in the ruck, but a secondary penalty blown immediately for an offside call. Panthers kick for touch and attack 20 metres out
3: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Brent Kite makes an unforced error.
Brent Kite juggles a pass as the Panthers spread to the open side, the wet ball is dropped. Scrum for the Rabbitohs 10 metres off their own goal line
4: Tim Grant is penalised for a high tackle on Burgess as he fell into a tackle. Souths attack through a tap from a kick for touch 30 metres out
5: Brent Kite penalised for a slow release in the ruck. Souths in the wet conditions will take a penalty goal from near the posts.
6: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Penalty goal attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.
Adam Reynolds slots the first points of the match as the Rabbitohs take the penalty goal on opportunity in the wet conditions.
9: Penalty to the Rabbitohs for the Panthers caught offside. Nathan Merritt in back play getting some assistance from the trainer after being swamped taking a kick catch.
10: Greg Inglis was slid over the sideline by the referees whistle sounds as the second man came after the held call and forced him over. Souths with possession just shy of the halfway line
12: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Apisai Koroisau makes an unforced error.
Api Koroisau attempting to play the ball in the rain soaked conditions sees a mistake come. Scrum for the Panthers 30 metres out from their own line
13: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Bryson Goodwin makes an unforced error.
Bryson Goodwin jumping for the kick catch has come up with a mistake as the ball slips away from him. Scrum for the Panthers 10 metres out from the Rabbitohs goal line
14: Matt Moylan chips a kick to the eastern corner, but it's forced dead by Goodwin. Line drop out for the Rabbitohs to give the Panthers a repeat set.
19: Jamal Idris unable to get an offload away on the final tackle of the set and the Rabbitohs come up with possession. Good defence by the Rabbitohs to hold off three repeat sets.
19: Knock on against the Rabbitohs as Ben Te'o attempted to offload. Scrum for the Panthers 30 metres out from the Rabbitohs goal line.
20: The Panthers spread the pass wide through Dean Whare and his pass was knocked by the Rabbitohs to give the Panthers another chance through a scrum feed 20 metres out
20: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Kevin Kingston makes an unforced error.
Kevin Kingston from acting half in the wet conditions fumbles the ball, another let off for the Rabbitohs as the Panthers fail to crack their defence.
22: Penalty again to the Panthers for the Rabbitohs offside, the count is 4-all now. Peter Wallace takes the kick back and the Panthers attack 10 metres out
23: The Rabbitohs goal line defence holds as the Panthers once again unable to crack. It's a scrappy game as the rain continues to fall in Penrith. Scrum for the Rabbitohs 10 metres off their own goal line.
27: Time off here as another penalty goes to the Panthers. Adam Reynolds is placed ON REPORT for putting the arm in a dangerous position.
28: Sika Manu draws a penalty as a hand came into the ruck after the held call. Souths concede again as the Panthers look to cross the try line 10 metres out
29: James Segeyaro took a dive for the try line but is held up on the 4th tackle. Back to the 10 metre line.
30: Adam Reynolds line drop out is out on the full and it's a penealty for the Panthers in front of the posts. They will take the penalty goal on offer here.
31: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL PENRITH PANTHERS
Penalty goal attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Jamie Soward pilots the conversion over the posts and the Panthers finally get points on the board. They have been tackled in the Rabbitohs 20 metres zone, 28 times, compared to the Rabbitohs in the Panthers zone just 3 times.
36: Mistake from Lewis Brown sees a scrum for the Rabbitohs deep in their own half.
38: Another mistake from the Panthers sees a scrum pack for South Sydney. The wet conditions messing with the possession for both sides. South Sydney attack 10 metres short of half way
39: James Segeyaro penalises for laying in the ruck too long, South Sydney kick for touch and attack 30 metres out with a change before the half time break
39: UNFORCED ERROR SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Dylan Walker makes an unforced error.
Dylan Walker unable to take the pass as the Rabbitohs spread to the open right side. Scrum for the Panthers just before the break.
40: There was not time for the scrum as the siren sounds. HALF TIME at Sportingbet Stadium sees the game locked up at 2-all with both teams posting penalty goals.
40: Second half is UNDERWAY at Sportingbet Stadium as the Panthers kick off
44: Penalty given to the Rabbitohs as Sam Burgess was crowed in the ruck. Souths tried to quick tap but under the rules unable inside the 10 metres. No penalty goal taken here
45: VIDEO REFEREE for South Sydney, Kirisome Auva'a is claiming as he charged for the line
45: TRY SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Scored by Kirisome Auva'a. Kick to come.
Kirisome Auva'a is awarded the first try of the match as he charged into the hole off a brilliant short pass from Greg Inglis. His power took him over the line despite the tackles of three Panthers. He claims a try on debut.
46: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Conversion attempt by Adam Reynolds unsuccessful.
Adam Reynolds with the conversion attempt from the western sideline pushes the kick across the face of goal
49: Matt Moylan is trapped in goal as he was able to escape after taking a short kick from Dylan Walker as he rushed back centre field on last tackle. Repeat set for the Rabbitohs through a line drop out
54: Adam Docker conceded a penalty after he helped out the ball in the ruck. But following that immediately, James Segeyaro was penalised for time wasting as he kicked the ball away. Souths with it on halfway
55: TRY SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Scored by Nathan Merritt. Kick to come.
Nathan Merritt becomes the highest try scorer for the Rabbitohs as he races over in the corner off a brilliant short side play featuring Inglis and Dylan Walker
60: Forward pass ruled as the Rabbitohs spread quickly. Scrum feed for the Panthers just inside the halfway line.
61: Bryson Goodwin is trapped in goal as he took a rushed kick from Soward. Line drop out is the call and the Panthers come up with a repeat set.
63: Greg Inglis just beats Watene Zelezniak to the ball as it rolls dead. Another line drop out for the Panthers as they look to claw back the 10 points
64: Penalty to the Panthers as the Rabbitohs defence hold and twist in the ruck. Panthers attack from a quick tap 10 metres out
65: Dean Whare darted towards the western sideline corner looking to link with Dallin Watene Zelezniak but the ball is knocked down and it's over the sideline. Chance got begging for the Panthers, scrum for the Rabbitohs
66: The Rabbitohs cough up a loose pass and the Panthers dive on it. They attack 12 metres out from the Rabbitohs try line.
67: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Dallin Watene Zelezniak makes an unforced error.
Dallin Watene Zelezniak getting ahead of himself as he looked to dive for the corner off a Dean Whare pass. Knock on the call and the Rabbitohs get possession through a scrum feed.
69: Another mistake and a change over for the Panthers. Souths with possession 20 metres off their own goal line.
71: TRY SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Scored by Kyle Turner. Kick to come.
Kyle Turner is awarded the TRY as he took a great pass from Greg Inglis as he cleaned up a mistake from Josh Mansour off the kick from Adam Reynolds. The rookie gets the Rabbitohs third try and that will be the match winner.
74: Penalty to the Panthers against Ben Te'o, count at 10-8 in favour of Penrith. They attack 30 metres out
78: UNFORCED ERROR PENRITH PANTHERS
Jamal Idris makes an unforced error.
Jamal Idris unable to take a quick pass from Jamie Soward, knock on the call and a scrum feed packs for the Rabbitohs 10 metres out from the halfway line.
80: Penalty to the Panthers as Peter Wallace was taken out in the defence line. Panthers kick for touch and attack 10 metres short of the halfway line.
80: FULL TIME at Sportingbet Stadium as seen the Panthers record their first loss at home in 2014, Rabbitohs winners 18-2.