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Player ratings for the South Sydney Rabbitohs team in their Telstra Premiership qualifying final clash with the Penrith Panthers at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

1. Blake Taaffe: Showed a nice right-foot step early, kept his patience in the in-goal and, while he dropped the first Nathan Cleary bomb, he didn't make a mess of subsequent kicks from Cleary, Jarome Luai, or Matt Burton. Made 68 of his 99 metres in kick returns, and set up Jaxson Paulo for Souths' second try. 7.5/10

2. Alex Johnston: Timely chip-and-chase that nearly brought a first-half try, but dropping a kick cold early in the second blotted his copybook. Not his usual momentum-changing self. 5.5

3. Dane Gagai: Barging run to set up Rabbitohs' first try, and made five tackle busts for the night. 6.5 

4. Campbell Graham: Contained Viliame Kikau quite well on Souths' right edge, which is no mean feat, making 25 tackles. Helped push Brian To'o into touch and made 14 runs in attack. 6.5

The powerhouse Rabbitohs attack kicks into gear as Walker scores

5. Jaxson Paulo: Scored a try and was safe in cover defence, producing a trysaver on Brian To'o as the Panthers rallied late. Made 11 carries to help out his forwards. 7

6. Cody Walker: Scored Souths' first try - his 13th for the year - and kept defences guessing both sides of the field. Game management in tandem with Reynolds was superb. 7.5 

7. Adam Reynolds: Always looked dangerous in taking the line on, selling a few good dummies. His vision to turn the ball right was the genius behind Paulo's try. Made 602 metres from 17 kicks. Controlled the tempo well. 8.5

The South Sydney defence stands tall again

8. Mark Nicholls:  Sturdy all night making 13 hit-ups. Mr Reliable in the defence department. 7

9. Damien Cook: Once again one of the hardest workers for his side with 40 tackles, alongside three off-loads. 7.5

10: Tevita Tatola: Made metres with every carry - 17 of them for 144 metres in a superb front-rower's knock. 7.5

11. Keaon Koloamatangi: Kept pace with Cook in the defence department early and never let up, topping the tackle count with 41 for Souths. His mistimed contact on Cleary as he kicked gave away a crucial penalty.  7

12. Jayden Su'A: An ankle problem forced him from the field in the 28th minute but came back on in the 51st. Was solid but nothing spectacular. 6

13. Cameron Murray: The fourth Rabbitohs forward to go over 100 metres and made 33 tackles. Worked himself to a standstill. 7.5

Interchange

14. Benji Marshall: Injected in the 32nd minute as the humidity caused a little fatigue. Only played 20 minutes and didn't really get the chance to shine. 5 

15. Jacob Host: More solid work up the middle, most of which largely goes unnoticed. But he is a necessary workhorse for the Rabbitohs. 6.5

Cool head and hands from Taaffe has Paulo over

16. Thomas Burgess: Constantly poked his nose through the line, dragging defenders with him (77 post-contact metres) as soon as he made his entry in the 19th minute. Defied the heat for a big man to make 21 runs and 212 metres. 9

17. Jai Arrow: Replaced Nicholls in the 20th minute and typically aggressive in his smothering tackles. Forced the ball loose from Kurt Capewell close to the Souths line with his typical jarring contact. 7.5

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.