NRL: As the siren sounds for halftime, the Panthers sparked a magical sort-side play but couldn’t add the finish to it.
UPDATE: AFTER raving all match about Bryce Cartwright’s performance on Friday night on Fox Sports, Matty Johns declared that he’d “walk to Cessnock” if the towering young Panther wasn’t picked for NSW in the upcoming Origin dead rubber in Sydney.
After a night that all but ended South Sydney’s finals hopes after going down 28-26 in a nail biting start to round 16, Cartwright’s
Origin credentials again dominated much of the post match talk.
You can already hear the argument against Cartwright’s selection that will be coming today.
NRL: Penrith utility Tyrone Peachey has been wiped out by the back fence as he tried to run onto the end of a Nathan Cleary grubber.
Yes, the 21-year-old came up with some more poor defensive reads, which has been an ongoing problem for him.
And he let in a try when Greg Inglis stepped past him close to the line in the second half.
But the upside is every time Cartwright gets near the ball the opposition defence goes into a panic.
Isn’t that what the Blues need?
In the five tries Penrith scored Cartwright played an hand in four.
And given the Origin game on July 13 should be more about planning for next year than playing for pride after another series defeat was decided, the question was put to Penrith coach Anthony Griffin if giving Cartwright his shot now would be beneficial for the youngster’s development.
“I don’t think it would hurt,” Griffin said, while refusing to say if he felt Cartwright was ready to take on the game’s biggest stage.
Poor old South Sydney gave it everything they had last night but in the end it just wasn’t enough.
It all but means their hopes of making the top eight cut this year is as good as dead with Souths now needing to win seven of their last nine games.
On a night young Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary walked away with the man of the match honours, Griffin also praised the return performances of Blues stars Matt Moylan and Josh Mansour. While forgotten backrow contender Trent Merrin couldn’t have done more
to push his claims.
Merrin finished the match with a Paul Gallen-like effort of 24 carries for 201 metres while working his way through 43 tackles.
Asked what else he could do to get an Origin recall, Griffin mused: “I don’t know.
“Like I said, I have got nothing to do with NSW. “I certainly enjoyed watching him play for us.
“The last three weeks he has had to stay out there for long minutes. “I think he played 80 minutes against Manly.
“We gave him a little breather tonight but he plays long minutes, he gets a lot of metres for us, he is selfless with his defensive
attitude. I am just glad he is playing for Penrith.”
About Cleary’s effort in only his third NRL game, Griffin added: “They put a lot of pressure on him. He had to catch a bit of hot ball there.
He has a real strong character about him. He doesn’t fold under pressure. He is doing a good job.”
Penrith again had Griffin as nervous as hell watching from the stands after leading 10-8 at halftime before pushing that out to 28-14
heading into the final 10 minutes.
But to their credit Souths refused to surrender with two late tries to Sam Burgess setting up a thrilling finish.
Greg Inglis also backed up his terrific Origin effort with another inspirational performance in a beaten team side on Friday night.
“Souths are a great side.” Griffin said.
“They are fighting to try and stay in touch and people like (John) Sutton, Burgess and Inglis teaming up on you and coming to get you have got to stand up defensively.
“When they turned the heat up to get back in the game in that last 10 minutes we only just hung on.”
But the defeat will mean the Rabbitohs will be six points adrift of the top eight by the end of the round and needing to win seven of their last nine games to make the finals cut.
Meanwhile Penrith move to 16 competition points and will find themselves in the eight the moment the axe falls on Parramatta’s salary cap points deduction, likely to be handed down next week.
While Griffin admits his side still has a way to go, he reckons if they can keep improving on the charge to the finals they can make an impact on this year’s title race.
“We just have to keep working at it,” Griffin said.
“I mean, there is no lack of effort and attitude.
“We are building some nice football but we just have to get stronger
defensively at vital times.”
PENRITH 28 (N Cleary C Grevsmuhl L Latu J Mansour D Watene-Zelezniak tries N Cleary 4 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 26 (S Burgess 2 G Inglis K Turner tries C Walker 5 goals) at Pepper Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Chris Sutton. Crowd: 13,080.