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Penrith have honed their blunt-force brilliance down to a fine art. Can it end Souths’ season again?


Right here we’re once more. For the third 12 months in a row, it is Penrith in opposition to South Sydney on the enterprise finish of the season.

As Saturday’s preliminary remaining approaches, it is becoming that we’re all right here collectively yet another time. After three seasons of driving excessive, the Panthers have refined their type of rugby league brutalism right down to a high quality artwork.

All their traditional strikes have been on present of their win over Parramatta two weeks in the past: like Nathan Cleary’s kicking sport, Isaah Yeo’s passing, James Fisher-Harris’ relentless depth, Api Koroisau probing from dummy half, athletic carries from the likes of Brian To’o and Dylan Edwards that appear to generate 1000’s of metres, and all people banding collectively to create a nigh-impregnable wall of black jerseys.

The Eels went with them till they could not anymore, and then Penrith pulled away for a 27-8 victory which felt familiar and with good reason — we have seen that precise kind of win that precise kind of means from Penrith dozens of instances lately.

The Panthers have been the NRL’s dominant drive for lengthy sufficient there is not any level on the lookout for a hidden secret behind their success anymore. Now we have seen them do it too many instances.

They’re rugby league’s blunt-force artists. With the best way they go about issues they might bludgeon down a mountain vary should you gave them sufficient time.

So it is not likely a query of how they will play in opposition to the Rabbitohs or what they will do. They will do the identical factor they did within the preliminary remaining in 2020, which is identical factor they did within the grand remaining final 12 months, which is identical factor they do in each sport that basically counts.

“We like that type of sport, the place we take groups to the again finish and see if they’ll go along with us,” stated five-eighth Jarome Luai.

Rugby league players celebrate after winning the grand final
The Panthers have ended South Sydney’s season every of the final two years. (Getty: Bradley Kanaris)

“There won’t be a particular second, however you possibly can really feel it within the power, within the ruck velocity. There is a particular really feel to it. Momentum modifications.

“Now we have loads of gamers on this crew who can present that, so we’re all the time on the lookout for it. That is the sensation you seek for each sport.

“It is the place you need to be. We would not need to be wherever else on this planet.

“You need to execute, however now we have loads of gamers on this crew who can get us to that time.

“When push involves shove, now we have to execute and we do it underneath strain.”

Penrith’s consolation in working the gauntlet, and their repetition of the steps that get them there, is their superpower.

There may be slight variations – one week it may be Viliame Kikau who makes a couple of huge performs, different weeks it may be Luai, or Stephen Crichton, or Izack Tago.

However the script usually stays the identical, with all of the items becoming collectively in the identical means doing the identical issues. There is no want to alter, as a result of virtually no one has been capable of cease them and South Sydney are not any exception.

They’ve misplaced eight of their final 9 in opposition to the Panthers who’re additionally 2-Zero of their “loser leaves city” clashes match-ups with the inspiration membership.

However the Rabbitohs are getting nearer. They went down by 4 within the 2020 preliminary remaining, and have been two brief in final 12 months’s grand remaining.

Stephen Crichton jumps over the top of a pack of Penrith Panthers players to celebrate a try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Penrith have proven a capability to thrive underneath strain when it is mattered probably the most in opposition to the Rabbitohs.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

And on each nights have been with out Latrell Mitchell, the cardinal and myrtle superman by whom all issues are doable for Souths.

Maybe that sole victory of their final 9 encounters – a 16-10 upset within the first week of the finals final 12 months – holds the important thing for South Sydney.

In that match, they have been capable of blunt Penrith within the center, Blake Taaffe did a mighty job underneath the excessive ball taking Cleary’s mind-bending bombs and so they made the a lot of the few attacking probabilities they have been supplied.



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