The Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs have been two of the best teams throughout the season and they clash on Friday in what could be a finals preview
Penrith is currently in second place behind Melbourne, with the Rabbitohs sitting on the same amount of points in third. It shapes up as a must-see game and the winner could book a top-two spot.
The online sportsbook has Penrith as slight favorites in a game that features some of the best attacking players in the NRL.
Rabbits Seeking Revenge
The last time the South Sydney Rabbitohs lost was to Penrith in Round 11. Since that time they have notched 10 consecutive victories, but they’ll need to be much better this time around.
South Sydney was torched 56-12 in a one-sided display. However, the loss has galvanized the squad and it’s good enough to turn the tables on the Panthers.
“We could have made excuses a few weeks earlier against Melbourne (without Latrell Mitchell and Adam Reynolds), but we were close to full strength against Penrith, and they wiped us off the park. I think I had maybe one run. They were just relentless right from the start,” Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They were in control in less than five minutes. They kicked us into corners, they got repeat sets, our discipline was terrible. They just kept coming. I walked off the field that day thinking they are the best team in the competition.
“After that loss, we changed a few things with our defense, and it will be a good test to see where we are at. We want to win. We want to keep winning, and beating Penrith will be great for our confidence.”
— South Sydney Rabbitohs 🐰 (@SSFCRABBITOHS) August 17, 2021
Last week’s 36-6 win over the Gold Coast Titans and the Round 21 win over the Parramatta Eels (40-12) were good indications of where this team is at.
NRL betting markets have the Rabbitohs as outsiders. They are paying +110 to turn the tables, which is a fair price given their form.
Panthers Getting Back to their Best
Midseason injuries are never easy to overcome, but the Penrith Panthers have managed to hold on to second place on the ladder.
Despite losing inspirational half Nathan Cleary for much of the season, the Panthers kept their winning record intact after scoring recent wins over the Roosters and Dragons.
Penrith is the last time to have beaten the Melbourne Storm, so it can hang its hat on that statistic. Last year’s finalists are still on track to earn repeat Grand Final appearances, and a win over the Rabbitohs would boost confidence levels.
— Western Weekender (@wwpenrith) August 13, 2021
There are concerns about the post-Origin play of Jarome Luai, who hasn’t been overly impressive since making his State of Origin debut. Teammate Nathan Cleary believes Luai’s new position takes some getting used to.
“I know from experience I definitely came out of the first two or so Origin series not playing my best footy,” Cleary said. “But in terms of ‘Romy’, he’s been playing a different position to what he has done all year, he had to direct the team around playing halfback, and that can take a lot of getting used to.
“When he was back in the No. 6 jersey against the Dragons (on Friday) I thought he did a great job, he was at his electric best, he was setting up tries and him and Matt Burton on that left side work really well. It was good to see him back to his best.”
Luai will need to be at his brilliant best to see off the surging Rabbitohs. They are one of the form teams of the competition, but if the Panthers can win, their confidence will go through the roof heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
We’re not surprised bookmakers have Penrith at -150 favorites. They are tough to beat on any given day and they are one of the best defensive teams in the NRL.
Rabbitohs vs Panthers Pick
It would be a surprise if either team won by more than 10 points. It should be an epically close game on Friday, but we’re giving the edge to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
We believe they have the power in the backline to overcome the stout Panthers defense. Players such as Latrell Mitchell and Dane Gagai should be able to burst through the line and set up Alex Johnson in the corner.
We can’t pass up the moneyline value with the Rabbitohs, who are making a claim for the minor premiership.