Reynolds field-goal sinks Panthers
An Adam Reynolds field-goal with 39 seconds remaining has seen the South Sydney Rabbitohs cause an upset at the foot of the mountains, holding on for a well-fought 21-20 victory over the Panthers at Pepper Stadium.
A late try to former Rabbitoh Michael Oldfield with four minutes left got the Panthers level after the Rabbitohs controlled most of the second half, before the cool head of Reynolds slotted the one-pointer from 20 metres out to notch up the Bunnies' third win of the season.
The halves pairing of Reynolds and Cody Walker led the side superbly, while skipper Sam Burgess performed strongly up front for arguably his best game so far in 2017.
A terrible pass from Panthers centre Dean Whare to Dylan Edwards found the ground three minutes into the clash and the Panthers conceded a penalty when Siosifa Talakai was held down too long on the attack following the error.
The visitors opted for two points in front via Reynolds, before back-rower Angus Crichton broke through from the kick restart to find Sam Burgess in support with the Bunnies skipper crashing into the posts for his first four-pointer of 2017 and giving the visitors the perfect start.
Former Panther Braidon Burns had a disastrous game under the high ball in his return to Pepper Stadium, spilling a Nathan Cleary spiral kick that resulted in Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossing the following set.
The Kiwi international linked with his brother for the Panthers opening try after Te Maire Martin kept the ball alive on the last to find the pairing on the left-edge, before Malakai Watene-Zelezniak threw a pass for Dallin to get the home side on the board.
The brothers linked again minutes later when Dallin raced 30 metres off a quick tap to find Malakai in the wings before Edwards placed a slick grubber that earnt the Panthers a repeat set. Rookie centre George Jennings almost jagged a try back for the Rabbitohs, but strong defence held the Panthers junior up over the line.
Rabbitohs hooker Damian Cook conceded a penalty in front but Anthony Griffin's side resisted the chance to level the game up and were rewarded when rookie Corey Harawira-Naera went over untouched when Cleary put the back-rower into a hole.
Another Cleary spiralling kick was well contained by Alex Johnston at the back, however Cody Walker was pinned for blocking Martin and the Panthers took the two points on offer to go up by six.
Walker would make up for the error to get the visitors back to even before the break, sliding his way over after a run-around play with John Sutton on the Bunnies' left-edge.
Reynolds converted out wide with scores level at half-time.
A poor pass from Robbie Farah straight after the break pressure on the visitors, but Walker ensured the Rabbitohs took the lead when he again showed a piece of brilliance to keep the ball alive for Reynolds to slide over for his first try of the season.
The Bunnies looked to go close again but Sutton missed an opportunity to pass for Walker after busting through a yawning Panthers gap, before two more errors from Burns kept the Anthony Griffin's side in the game with nine minutes to play.
Trent Merrin threw a pass to the wrong man to let South Sydney off the hook, but another repeat set shortly after handed the Panthers the ultimate chance to strike as the clock showed six minutes remaining.
A strong hit from Sutton and Cook jolted the ball free from Cleary, but the halfback later delivered the ultimate showing of calmness to slot the sideline conversion to Oldfield's late try, before Reynolds' clutch kick at the death ensured the Rabbitohs would not get beat in this one.
Rabbitohs 21 (S. Burgess, Walker, Reynolds tries; Reynolds 4 goals; Reynolds 1 field goal) defeated Panthers 20 (D. Watene-Zelezniak, Harawira-Naera, Oldfield tries; Cleary 4 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Half-time: 14-all. Crowd: 15,535.