Panthers perfect as Rabbits stewed

Penrith have reignited their 2010 campaign with a resounding victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs tonight, scoring 40 unanswered first half points before going on to win 54-18 at CUA Stadium.

The Panthers started strongly but few could see what was coming. Sam McKendry opened the scoring before Sandor Earl and Travis Burns both pushed through meek defence and within 12 minutes the Panthers had stunned the Rabbitohs into silence with 16 points. The rout continued through the half, with only brief periods of respite for Souths as Penrith racked up forty points before the siren sounded for halftime. Penrith ran and scored at will while South Sydney proved beyond any doubt why they will not be joining the big guns in September.

The second half provided little but some consolation for South Sydney and the opportunity for Michael Gordon to pursue records, one of which he broke with 30 points in the match being the most for any Panther in a match since 1967. The Rabbitohs may have taken the second half 18-14, but they have big problems and John Lang will be asking questions through the week before they face Parramatta at ANZ Stadium next Friday. Their season is effectively over, although those red-and-green fans with their calculators may beg to differ. If the Eels don't finish them off, it'll be left to St George Illawarra to do so in Round 26.

Penrith have a remarkable opportunity to press their claims for second position with games remaining against Canterbury and Cronulla, although both sides will have reason to play spoiler in farewelling Luke Patten and Trent Barrett respectively - so the Panthers need to maintain the rage, which they failed to do in the second half tonight.

Michael Gordon nabs the three points in LeagueUnlimited.com's player of the match tonight for his record-breaking performance while strong performers included Sam McKendry, Travis Burns, Luke Walsh and Frank Pritchard. Souths were ordinary most of the night although Issac Luke and Rhys Wesser gave their guts in the second half to bridge some of the gap.

Match Details
Penrith Panthers 54 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 24 - Friday August 20, 2010 7:35pm
Venue: CUA Stadium, Penrith
Referee: Tony Archer and Alan Shortall
Video Referee: Steve Clark
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Grant Atkins
Crowd: 13,411
Halftime: Penrith Panthers 40 South Sydney Rabbitohs 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Michael Gordon (3 Tries, 8 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Sam McKendry (1 Try)
1 Point - Sandor Earl (2 Tries)

PENRITH PANTHERS (54)
Tries: Travis Burns (2), Michael Gordon (3), Masada Iosefa, Sam McKendry, Sandor Earl (2)
Conversions: Michael Gordon (8/9)
Penalty Goals: Michael Gordon (1/1)

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (18)
Tries: Rhys Wesser, Luke Capewell, Dylan Farrell
Conversions: Chris Sandow (3/3)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Both sides 1-13 heading into this game, with just bench reshuffles taking place. Laurie and Iosefa are the additions for Penrith, while Craig Stapleton makes way for Dylan Farrell for the cardinal-and-myrtle. Earlier in Toyota Cup, the Rabbitohs got home 26-24 in a close one.
Both sides are particularly desperate tonight at CUA Stadium, Penrith. The hosts are looking to arrest a worrying form slump as they slowly slip from their once convincing top four position. Since defeating competition favourites St George Illawarra two months ago, they've won just one game. South Sydney simply have to keep winning in order to give their finals hopes life, a task made more difficult by the fact they haven't won at CUA Stadium since 2002.
Game on in this vital clash. Penrith with the ball first.
2 min: Penrith with the first penalty of the game with the Rabbitohs not retreating in time. Home side in attacking territory.
3 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Sam McKendry. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
A great start from Penrith, Sam McKendry receives a great ball near the line from Luke Walsh to cross near the posts. A strong start from the Panthers prop-forward. Credit to Frank Pritchard for a solid run earlier in the set. Rabbitoh defence looking ordinary as Penrith take an early six-point lead.
Penrith Panthers 6-0
6 min: An energetic post-try set of six from Penrith sees them trap the Rabbitohs inside their own 30m zone.
8 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Sandor Earl. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Oh this is just too easy! The Panthers hit the blind side late in the count and Sandor Earl pushes through two defenders to get the ball on the line. Gordon converts from the touchline perfectly.
Penrith Panthers 12-0
12 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Travis Burns. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon unsuccessful.
Wow. A Civoniceva offload on his own thirty sets off a chain of events, a huge break from Walsh, Gordon backs him up, they use Pritchard and two more before Travis Burns finds his way through the melee to score near the posts. What a phenomenal start by the men in black! Gordon's shanked the conversion but it's 16-0 after just 12 minutes. Remarkable!
Penrith Panthers 16-0
14 min: A penalty for South Sydney earns them a reprieve and they finally have a chance to attack.
15 min: Video referee for what won't be a South Sydney try, fumbles and bumbles all over the place with Beau Champion. Although the more looks we have, the more boisterious the CUA Stadium crowd is getting...
It is NO TRY, knock-on ruled and Penrith will feed the scrum on their own 10m line. Two minutes of replays from Paul Simpkins to decide what the rest of Australia and New Zealand saw in half a second...
17 min: Colin Best penalised for making a second tackle on Trent Waterhouse after Archer had called held. Penrith to attack once again as the clock finally catches up with the scoreboard.
19 min: Penrith knock the ball on and Souths now make an escape from their own zone. In attack though Sam Burgess has taken Travis Burns wholus-bolus off-the-ball and given Penrith a penalty.
21 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Travis Burns. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Penrith continue their clock-chasing, Travis Burns off the back of great runs from Pritchard and McKendry buries himself underneath the South Sydney line. Gordon converts.
Penrith Panthers 22-0
23 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Sandor Earl. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Even more WOW. Michael Jennings explodes down the left touchline before being dragged down. The Panthers spread it with success and Sandor Earl bags a double. Gordon's sideline conversion pushes the score to 28-0 after just 23 minutes. South Sydney are in big trouble here.
Penrith Panthers 28-0
25 min: Out on the full and Souths will start a set inside Panthers' territory here, can they stem the flood of Penrith points?
26 min: It's just not South Sydney's night tonight, Nathan Merritt muffs a grubber near the sideline straight into touch. Not much go forward, plenty of go-sideways from the Bunnies. It could be a long night.
29 min: Penrith earn a penalty on halfway which will push them 30 metres out. A knock on is picked up on the first tackle but Pettybourne is picked up for a second consecutive high shot and it's another penalty.
30 min: Up to the VIDEO REFEREE for a very unlikely hat-trick for Travis Burns, I don't think he's crossed the line with the ball. No he hasn't, Refs Call, and Archer says NO TRY HELD UP.
31 min: VIDEO REFEREE Paul Simpkins referred to the for the second time, Nathan Smith claiming a try of a high kick. Possible obstruction... it's NO TRY as well. Michael Jennings got himself in the way and Souths get the penalty.
35 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Michael Gordon. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Gordon strolls in under the posts to continue the Panthers' dominance. Needless to say this is just dominant from Penrith. He converts his own try.
Penrith Panthers 34-0
36 min: Are we headed for 40-0 by the break? VIDEO REFEREE for a possible try next to the posts for Masada Iosefa.
38 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Masada Iosefa. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Indeed it is, the ball has only bounced backwards. Penrith surge forward, this is an insane lead going into halftime. Gordon converts the Iosefa try.
Penrith Panthers 40-0
40 min: Sandor Earl puts a terrible kick up on the last just before the siren sounds, there won't be time to resume play for Souths and it's halftime.
It's HALFTIME at CUA. Nothing to say but Penrith have been scintillating - and South Sydney embarrassing. Bunnies fans, plan for 2011 now.
41 min: And we're back in action at CUA Stadium, South Sydney with first use of the ball to reverse the atrocious first half display. With the NRL this year, who knows what lay ahead in the next forty. Penrith kick off.
42 min: An early error from South Sydney will see Penrith attack early in the second half.
42 min: And a silly kick from Walsh midway through the count ends up in Souths' hands just outside the 20m line.
44 min: More sad news compounding Souths' grief, Beau Champion looks like he's possibly broken his leg.
45 min: Travis Burns looks to have scored but he's offered a double movement and Tony Archer is on the spot and issues the penalty without a video referral. Terrible return though as Dylan Farrell spills it coming off his own 40m line 46 min: Positive for Souths as a cross-field lofted kick is fielded on the full by Nathan Merritt.
48 min: A fifth tackle midfield bomb from Souths almost reaps rewards but Farrell is tackled by Sandor Earl before a string of desperate passes ends in Penrith taking the ball but ending up in touch. Souths scrum.
50 min: Souths force two repeat sets, although the second was dubious as the Panthers ground a ball in goal they assumed South Sydney had knocked on. Archer missed it, line drop-out.
52 min: The Rabbitohs' tendency to shift the ball sideways costs them again with a forward pass ruled just as Wesser looked to have put Merritt in the clear down the right sideline. Luke Lewis and Sam McKendry both come off for Penrith for a breather.
54 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Michael Gordon. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Michael Gordon gets the ball from dummy half and steps, dazzles and dances his way through the South Sydney defence, all from 30 metres out. Converting his own try, he edges closer to Ryan Girdler's Penrith pointscoring record as well as pushing Penrith 46 points clear.
Penrith Panthers 46-0
58 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Luke Capewell. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
Luke Capewell finds that bumping and turning works, getting himself across the stripe to put South Sydney on the board just inside the one-hour mark. Sandow converts.
Penrith Panthers 46-6
62 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Rhys Wesser. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
Suddenly Souths have struck back again, some soft defence off the scrum and Penrith are looking shaky again. Wesser's in, Sandow converts.
Penrith Panthers 46-12
64 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Dylan Farrell. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
The Rabbitohs push it up the edges and Luke puts Farrell into space. Sandow converts, and Matt Elliott throws Luke Lewis back out onto the park with Michael Jennings coming off looking a bit crook.
Penrith Panthers 46-18
66 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Panthers try to Nathan Smith. First look was not favourable for Penrith but replays are funny things...
NO TRY, knock on from Sandor Earl. Rabbitohs scrum ten metres from their own line.
67 min: The more this one unfolds the more it looks like the same story as Canberra v Newcastle back in July - the home side racing to a dramatic halftime lead before clocking off in the second half and letting the visitors post a few points to add respectability. A penalty against South Sydney here out wide. They'll go for goal Penrith...
69 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Penrith Panthers
Penalty goal attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Bizarre decision to kick for goal this far in front but they push the score to 48-12 with Gordon adding the two.
Penrith Panthers 48-18
72 min: Consecutive knock-ons from each side, Souths with the latest scrum feed. A kick through on tackle one! Wesser chases Gordon and wraps him up in goal. Drop-out.
75 min: We're rolling into nothing at the moment, the Bunnies are looking stronger as the match winds down but only through a caution-to-the-wind approach bought about by the hopelessness of the scoreline. With five left both teams have used up all ten interchanges available.
77 min: A Rabbitohs knock-on continues the waste of a second-half we've had so far as both sides struggle to put on a decent showing.
80 min: TRY
TRY Penrith Panthers
Scored by Michael Gordon. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Right on the bell Michael Gordon scores and converts to break Ryan Girdler and Amos Roberts' record of most points in a match with 30. The Panthers break through fifty and we finish off here at CUA.
Penrith Panthers 54-18

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