Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In the main event on Saturday night, the second placed Penrith Panthers took on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a top four clash that would see the winner just 80 minutes away from the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
The Panthers headed into the contest with a ton of momentum following the recent return of multiple stars and a good run of form, while the Rabbitohs have also been great but come into this one without their star fullback Latrell Mitchell who was suspended for the rest of the season following his high shot on Sydney Roosters player Joseph Manu in round 24.
When these two sides faced off in the 2020 Preliminary Final they put on a classic, with fans hoping they could do the same here.
Adam Reynolds got the scoring underway when he kicked a penalty goal in the third minute when Kurt Capewell was penalised for an illegal strip.
Penrith would then hit back five minutes later when Stephen Crichton scored off a Nathan Cleary grubber to the ingoal that was taped back in, then momentum would continuously shift for the next 15 minutes before Dane Gagai split the Penrith defence and set Cody Walker up for a try under the post, but mere minutes later Keaon Koloamatangi gave away a penalty that allowed Cleary to even the playing field with a penalty goal.
Souths defence 😤
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) September 11, 2021
Reynolds and Cleary would then kick another penalty goal each in the 34th and 40th minute collectively, with the Penrith halfback’s goal ending the first half at 10 all.
Just four minutes into the second half, a great play by the Rabbitohs close to the line led to Jaxson Paulo going over in the corner to give them the lead.
South Sydney would then withstand a Penrith onslaught for the majority of the next 20 minutes, as the Panthers cost themselves multiple try scoring opportunities, before Isaah Yeo was penalised for a crusher tackle that led to Adam Reynolds kicking his third penalty goal of the night, putting his side up by a converted try.
Errors would then really begin to come into the game, as both sides made some serious blunders, with the Rabbitohs looking to secure the game and the Panthers desperate to tie things up, but in the end South Sydney held on to win 16-10 and qualify for the Preliminary Final.