Sammut sparks Penrith to win over Souths - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sammut sparks Penrith to win over Souths

By Steve Jancetic 04/08/2007 10:52:26 PM Comments (0)

Jarrod Sammut is hard to miss at the best of times with his head of bleached white hair, but the Penrith youngster made sure no-one would forget his NRL debut as he sparked the Panthers to a 32-16 upset of South Sydney.

From his first touch when he ran headlong into the Rabbitohs defence on a kick return it was obvious there was something a bit different about him, his courage complemented by some deft playmaking as he set up two tries for the wooden spoon favourites.

"I heard that Matty (Panthers coach Matt Elliott) just loves fullbacks that gain metres and all I knew was that I was running straight," Sammut said of his initial run.

"I couldn't ask for anything more - debut at home, get a win and man-of-the-match.

"Words can't explain how I feel at the moment."

The Panthers remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder despite the win, while for Souths the loss - after they had led 10-0 after 17 minutes - puts a dent in their top-eight hopes.

"We just dropped our intensity, we just didn't play with the control that we needed to play with," Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor said.

"Maybe we thought it was happening a bit too easy and then just went into our shell.

"We talked about lifting it in the second half but we went backwards."

On the other side of the fence the smile returned to the face of Elliott as he watched his side outscore the Bunnies 22-6 after the break.

But Elliott admitted playing the role of finals spoiler didn't sit comfortably.

"It's hard for me to admit and even swallow down on that to be honest with you," Elliott said.

"I had other aspirations for the season. I'm not someone that gives up on things very easily."

Looking to avoid their first wooden spoon since 2001, the last-placed Panthers got themselves back to 10-all at half-time only to shoot themselves in the foot shortly after the restart with Fetuli Talanoa pouncing on a floating Peter Wallace pass for an 85-metre intercept try.

The Panthers locked it up again when video referee Russell Smith awarded Matthew Cross a dubious four-pointer three minutes later - the back-rower appearing to make a second movement before reaching out for the line.

It was just the sort of luck that had deserted the Panthers all year, and they capitalised with Jennings picking up the crumbs from a Wallace bomb for a 20-16 lead.

Souths pair Shannon Hegarty and Shannan McPherson were put on report for a lifting tackle on winger Mark O'Halloran before Wallace and Jennings combined again, Maurice Blair wrapping up the win with a try on the bell.

Penrith's rugby union-bound skipper Craig Gower said the win was all the sweeter after a newspaper article midweek had questioned his commitment to the side when he was spotted on the sidelines at Wallabies training.

Gower will leave to take up a three-year deal to play in the French rugby union championship at the conclusion of the NRL season.

"I've been at the club for 12 years and I've got more respect for the club than to be like that," Gower said.

"You've got to be pretty stupid to not get any information off the game's best when you're an amateur at something.

"Maybe we should have been performing that way all year but obviously it's very satisfying to come out and win."

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