Panthers pile on pressure, but Souths prevail

South Sydney withstood heavy pressure from Penrith Panthers to maintain their position joint top of the NRL with a 22-18 victory at Panthers Stadium.

Kyle Turner scored the opening try for South Sydney when he crashed over the top of Nathan Cleary. And while the Panthers were competing well, they fell further behind when Dane Gagai found Corey Allan spectacularly on the right.

Penrith thought all their first-half work had been rewarded when James Fisher-Harris got on the end of Sione Katoa’s kick but it was ruled out due to James Maloney’s poor play-the-ball. They did earn a penalty, kicked by Nathan Cleary after the hooter, to close the gap to eight at the break.

Then four minutes into the second half, James Maloney was sent over the line by Reagan Campbell-Gillard which cut the gap to only two points with Cleary’s conversion.

The Rabbitohs had to deal with a lot of pressure from their hosts before they struck through Cody Walker’s seventh try of the season. But the gap closed once again when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak grounded Maloney’s grubber kick.

More Souths defence laid the platform for them to extend the lead when Adam Reynolds sent Walker through a gap on his inside and the standoff found Dane Gagai for the try. But a barnstorming run from Viliame Kikau set up a grandstand finish.

Panthers: Aekins, Mansour, D Watene-Zelezniak, Blake, M Watene-Zelezniak, Maloney, Cleary, Tamou, Egan, Grant, Kikau, Yeo, Fisher-Harris; Katoa, Martin, Leota, Campbell-Gillard
Tries: Maloney, D Watene-Zelezniak, Kikau; Goals: Cleary 3

Rabbitohs: Johnston, Allan, Turner, Gagai, Graham, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, T Burgess, Sutton, S Burgess, Murray; Interchanges: G Burgess, Nicholls, Lowe, Knight
Tries: Turner, Allan, Walker, Gagai; Goals: Reynolds 3

Full match reports of all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.