Panthers pile on more agony for Souths - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Panthers pile on more agony for Souths

By Adrian Warren 14/05/2006 08:05:20 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach John Lang believes Craig Gower has played himself into a NSW Origin jersey after the mercurial halfback steered the Panthers to a 32-20 NRL win over South Sydney.

Lang was also full of praise for Trent Waterhouse, saying the big forward had regained the form which earned him an Australian jumper.

Gower and Waterhouse were among seven Penrith players backing up from last Friday's City-Country game and played prominent roles in the Panthers' victory over the Rabbitohs at CUA Stadium.

Down 22-4 just after halftime, Souths scored 16 unanswered points before Penrith steadied with late tries to fullback Rhys Wesser and Luke Rooney.

Rooney bagged a double in his 100th first grade game to secure the Panthers' first victory in five matches.

Gower, who played five-eighth for City, orchestrated the Panthers' attack as the home team ran in six tries to four.

"As a Queenslander and the Penrith coach I've got an awful feeling he (Gower) has played himself into the NSW side.

"He didn't slash them, but I just thought he had a really good all round game."

Gower, who has played just five Origin games compared to 14 Tests, said he would settle for any position in the NSW 17-man squad, but relished his return to his familiar number seven jersey.

"I love playing halfback, you get the ball in your hands a little bit more and it seems like I can control again a lot better," Gower said.

Lang said Waterhouse had been playing good solid football, but had stepped up.

"That's probably the first breaks he's made today and it just looked like the Waterhouse that forced his way into the Australian side, Lang said.

South Sydney coach Shaun McRae felt his team's inability to complete sets in the first half fatigued his players down the stretch.

"The Rabbitohs completed only seven of 15 first half sets but completed 12 out of 12 during their third quarter rally in which five-eighth John Sutton, halfback Ben Walker and second rower David Fa'alogo each crossed the Panthers line.

"They (Penrith) have got to get a lot of credit for the way they have backed up and the way they played, but there was a point there today they were in trouble and we didn't capitalise on that," McRae said.

"To get back to 22-20, I really thought we could have gone on and won the game but unfortunately that last 15 minutes or so we went back to poor completions and they've got some strike players out there that can damage you."

In the first half, tries to second rower Shane Rodney, centre Luke Lewis and Waterhouse set up an 18-4 Penrith lead.

When Rooney crossed two minutes into the second half, to give Penrith a 22-4 lead the Rabbitohs' cause appeared lost.

Rooney, who has scored 48 tries in his hundred games, crossed for his first two four pointers of the season, but lamented the lost opportunities to bag his maiden first grade hat-trick after having two tries disallowed by video referee Graeme West.

Lang said he had never given any thought during the game to the potential fatigue factor for his side and had emphasised to the 10 other players during the week they had to lead the charge.

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