Panthers end the dream for Rabbitohs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Panthers end the dream for Rabbitohs

By Adrian Warren 22/08/2009 11:09:16 PM Comments (0)

Backrowers Frank Puletua and Trent Waterhouse have starred as Penrith fanned the flickering flames of their NRL finals aspirations and extinguished South Sydney's with a thumping 40-10 win at CUA Stadium.

Starting the round in tenth spot, Penrith moved into seventh above Parramatta, who they play next Friday.

The Panthers scored seven tries to two with Penrith winger Michael Gordon tallying 16 points from a try and six goals from seven attempts.

Leading 12-10 after half an hour, they piled on 28 unanswered points either side of the break, outscoring the Rabbitohs 22-0 in the second half.

Souths completed 13 of their 15 first-half sets, but most were in their own half as Penrith dominated territory.

The Rabbitohs, who had to win to retain any mathematical hope of making the finals, posted first points through an early try to centre and debutant Junior Vaivai, but couldn't contain a free running Panthers outfit.

With Pritchard and Waterhouse creating havoc and their speedy backs slicing Souths up out wide, Penrith had too many attacking weapons for the visitors.

Winger Junior Tia Kilifi scored two first-half tries and five-eighth Wade Graham also crossed before the break to set up an 18-10 halftime advantage for the home team.

The Rabbitohs' hopes rose briefly after hooker Isaac Luke's converted 27th-minute try got them within two points at 10-12, but they were swamped in the second half.

Tries to hooker Paul Aiton, Gordon and centres Brad Tighe and Michael Jennings, who scored a 45-metre solo effort, made it a stirring final home effort of the season for Penrith.

Gordon converted all but one of the tries to give him 56 out of 60 for the year, though he missed a kick for the first time in four games.

Souths entered the game as the competition's leading tryscorers, but they lacked the defensive starch to stay in the game.

One worry for Panthers coach Matthew Elliott was a head knock to star utility Luke Lewis.

Elliott revealed his players had got together earlier in the week and discussed some of the things they wanted to prioritise following their second-half flogging by the Broncos.

"We talked about our defence at the start of the week and how we wanted to get it back where it was earlier on in the year and I think we did that," Waterhouse told reporters.

"Our attitude was spot on the whole week we had a great preparation".

Elliott said Waterhouse and Pritchard where his two best players.

Waterhouse said his team was definitely up to the challenge of playing in the finals, but wasn't looking any further ahead than the big clash with the Eels on Friday night.

Elliott wasn't prepared to single out any individual for a "star-off" against in form Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne, stressing the Panthers had four potential game breakers in Pritchard, Waterhouse, Jennings and Lewis.

He said Lewis was okay despite taking an accidental knee to the head from Jennings.

Souths coach Jason Taylor lamented his club's mid-season slump as the reason for missing the finals and admitted they were simply not up to the task against the Panthers.

"We just found it too hard tonight, we were just down on troops and not good enough, it's as simple as that," Taylor said.

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