[Source: Penrith Panthers/Twitter]
The Panthers are on the board in 2023 after surviving a late comeback from the Rabbitohs to win their clash 16-10 in the opening game of Round two.
It took a desperate diving effort from Dylan Edwards to stop Alex Johnston from scoring in the final minute to secure the result, after the Panthers had 15 minutes earlier held a 16-0 lead and appeared to be cruising.
Earlier tries from Johnston and Isaiah Tass, the second of which was converted by Latrell Mitchell, set up the tense finish.
The Panthers had started with a hiss and a roar, after being upset by the Broncos in an opening-round defeat, and with a mid-week jibe from Latrell Mitchell no doubt fresh in their minds.
Outside of the late comeback from their opponents, the major scare for Penrith came when skipper Nathan Cleary left the field with a limp just before the break, although he was able to return and play the second half without issue.
The Panthers terrorized South Sydney’s back three with high kicks all night, while they wore the Rabbitohs down with an 80 percent completion rate and high-tempo play, led by impressive bench dummy half Soni Luke.
Penrith got over the line twice in the first five minutes, with the first effort ruled out by the Bunker and the second ending in Stephen Crichton scoring in the corner.
After some brave defence from the Rabbitohs, and blown opportunities of their own causing, the Panthers finally got a result again a minute before the break, with Izack Tago scoring and Crichton converting for a 10-0 lead.
A penalty goal and Brian To’o try saw the hosts stretch the gap to 16 by the 52nd minute, before Johnston’s try 14 from time created some interest.
Tass then scored to set up a thriller, before Edwards saved the day on the last set with a desperate lunge to clear the ball before Johnston got there in the in-goal area.
Match Highlights 🎥 – #NRLPanthersSouths
The Panthers are on the board after surviving a late comeback from the Rabbitohs to win their clash 16-10! pic.twitter.com/Gb2aiJf8tK
— NRL (@NRL) March 9, 2023