Panthers v Rabbitohs: Five key points

Reynolds and Cleary show how it's done, Burns becomes another victim and Walker on fire as the Rabbitohs clinch a one-point thriller over the Panthers at Pepper Stadium.

 

Calm halves 

If it wasn't Adam Reynolds' field goal at the end of the game with just 39 seconds left, then Nathan Cleary's sideline conversion to level the contest was up there as examples of owning clutch moments when needed.

Cleary spilled the ball with six minutes to go after taking on the line with the Panthers needing a try, but that didn't affect the 19-year-old's confidence to come back and nail the conversion on the more uncomfortable side for a right foot goal-kicker after Michael Oldfield crossed in the corner. 

Reynolds returned serve with the field-goal in the end and Bunnies skipper Sam Burgess said it was a case of practice makes perfect.

"I'm pleased for Adam to get that field-goal," Burgess said post-game.

"He puts a lot of practice in and people don’t see that so it's nice to see him get one out on the field tonight."

 

Watene-Zelezniak brothers unite

A nice moment in the first half occurred when NRL debutant Malakai Watene-Zelezniak linked with brother Dallin for the Panthers' opening try down the left edge.

The brothers have waited for years to lace on the boots next to each other and a Te Maire Martin break turned into celebration for the pair when Malakai threw an inside pass for Dallin to get the Panthers on the board.

As is the ritual at Penrith, Malakai downed a chocolate OAK post-game to celebrate his first taste in the top grade, while the pair had over 100 family members waiting to greet them after the match.


Cleary's bombs uncatchable

Panthers halfback Cleary is slowly picking off victims out wide after giving Rabbitohs winger Braidon Burns a nightmare return to Pepper Stadium. 

The spiralling and floating mid-field bombs have caused havoc in recent weeks, with Roosters pairing Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Michael Gordon also struggling under the bright lights of Cleary's monsters. 

"He's got a fair kick on him, Nathan," Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said.

"They (Panthers) obviously peppered that side [of Burns] and I thought earlier in the game we probably didn’t have enough kick pressure so we allowed him to have better kick time.

"I'm sure Braidon will do a bit of practice at training and maybe Greg [Inglis] will be able to help him out."

All we can say is, good luck to Cronulla's outside backs next week.

Walker on fire

Souths five-eighth Cody Walker continues to go from strength-to-strength and is showing no signs of the dreaded second-year syndrome that many younger players seem to fall victim after a stellar breakout season. 

The 27-year-old "veteran" was again damaging on Friday night, scoring a try before setting up another for Reynolds to go over. His big play came towards the end when he got the Bunnies in decent field position for his partner to slot over the one-pointer.

While Walker wont be talked up for Origin, his 132 metres effort to go with his ball-playing ability is no one-off and he is fast becoming one of the most underrated players in the Telstra Premiership.

Panthers struggling in tight games

While not at panic stations yet at the foot of the mountains, the Panthers have come up short twice at Pepper Stadium to start the year by one and two points respectively against the Rabbitohs and Roosters.

As is the case each year, teams look back on certain games and pinpoint where they could have potentially made the finals had the result gone differently and for Panthers fans, they'll hope these two games will not be one of those cases. 

Griffin said the close losses were not a worry at this point of the season. 

"Obviously you'd like to be winning, particularly in a game like that tonight where we had a lot of obstacles to get ourselves in the position," he said.

"We don't like losing but I thought we won out there in a lot of ways tonight.

"We're building and we will get stronger from it.

"The season is only a quarter of the way done and there's a lot of football to go but from a performance with the players representing our club, I was extremely proud of them."