HEAD TO HEAD | South Sydney

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86 matches [1967-1996; 1998-1999; 2002-2021]

39 wins, 46 losses, 1 draw

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_southsydney.htm

Penrith’s head to head history with South Sydney, the self-proclaimed “Pride of the League” dates back to the club’s debut season in 1967. Back then, the Rabbitohs were one of the heavyweights of the Sydney premiership. Their first match was at Penrith Park on 21 May 1967. A football lesson was dished out to the premiership rookies, copping a 39-0 thrashing. The return match at Redfern Oval in August saw the Panthers give a better account of themselves, but still went down in a much closer encounter 14-7.

The Panthers would chalk up their first win in their third encounter. In the 1968 match at Redfern Oval, both teams were locked up at 7-all at half time, with three penalty conversions early in the second half to Penrith giving the visitors a 13-7 lead. Whilst the Rabbitohs struck back with a converted try to narrow the lead to 1, the Panthers defence stuck it out and held on for a 13-12 victory. The return match later in the season would be Penrith’s first appearance at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the equally prestigious Match of the Day. In a tight see-sawing battle, Penrith led 14-12 late in the second half before Souths regained the lead late in the match and clung on for a 19-14 victory.

Between 1969 and 1983, the Panthers would only win 6 from the 30 matches played, along with 1 draw.

This one draw would be at Penrith Park in 1970 – the home team fought back from 16-9 midway through the second half to lead 18-16 before a South Sydney penalty conversion with two minutes remaining saw them scramble to a lucky draw.

The best of these 6 wins was undoubtedly the win at Penrith Park in 1977. The Panthers piled on 5 tries in an 11 minute period to score a total of 9 tries on their way to a crushing 43-2 victory. This would remain the club’s biggest ever win until 1998 and remains the Panthers biggest ever win against Souths to this day.

On the flipside, Souths dished out a few hidings of their own during this time, with three 30-plus point hidings, including a 59-5 annhilation at Redfern Oval in Penrith’s “annus horribilis” season of 1980. This remains the Panthers worst ever loss to the Rabbitohs and the club’s fourth ever biggest loss.

As of the end of 1983, the ledger for Penrith read 7 wins and a draw from 34 matches.

From 1984 to 1999, the tables were turned dramatically, with Penrith winning 15 out of their 20 encounters. This included a 7 match winning streak between 1988 and 1993, which remains the longest against any one club to date for the Panthers.

Two wins standout during this run.

The first was a 19-8 win against the eventual minor premiers at the Sydney Football Stadium in 1989, which snapped a 12 match winning streak for the Bunnies. It was a dull first half with both teams locked up at 2-all, before the visitors pulled ahead to lead 15-2 midway through the second half. Whilst Souths would score a converted try to reduce the margin to 15-8 before Penrith iced the victory with one final try.

The following year South Sydney had free fallen to the premiership cellar, and came to a cold and wet Penrith Park to be handed a 44-10 hiding. The Panthers led 18-0 at half time, and whilst the visitors pulled the margin back to 12 early in the second half, Penrith would continue to pile on the points, including Greg Alexander who kicked a then club record 10 goals.

There was a brief cessation in their hostilities in 1997, when Penrith played in the break away Super League competition and South Sydney contesting in the ARL competition.

With re-unification occurring with the formation of the NRL, the two teams would meet once in both 1998 and 1999, with each of these matches at Penrith Park. The Panthers victory in 1998 was typified by a second half surge, which yielded 4 tries and converted a skinny 2 point lead into a comprehensive 36-18 victory. South Sydney would return in 1999 to perform a 20-0 shutout.

A matter of months later, South Sydney would be sensationally axed from the 2000 season for failing to meet criteria that was established upon the reunification of the competition. However, it must be said that Penrith were hovering close to the axe too at this time and had been lucky to survive. The Rabbitohs path to re-admission was hard fought, and they returned to the premiership in 2002.

Their first meeting after re-admission saw the fourth match in a row at Penrith Stadium, with the visitors recording a 23-16 victory.

However, the Panthers would win 6 of the next 7, starting with a 28-12 win at Gosford later in the 2002 season. These included comprehensive wins at Penrith Stadium in 2004 (36-4) and then at Aussie Stadium in 2005 (36-6), however, there were also a couple of tight encounters, including both meetings in 2003. The 16-14 at Aussie Stadium was the first of a club record 8 straight wins, whilst later in the season the Panthers withstood a late surge from the visitors to win 30-24 and finish that round on top of the ladder for the first time since 1991.

In 2006, South Sydney relocated to Telstra Stadium (now ANZ Stadium), with the Bunnies securing a see-sawing 32-26 win in Round 22. It would the start of a remarkable run in which the Panthers have not tasted victory against the Rabbitohs in seven meetings (to date) at this venue, with the last of these meetings being in 2017, when the Rabbitohs handed out a 42-14 hiding.

Conversely, Penrith have enjoyed a superior record at home since 2006, winning 8 of the 12 matches against South Sydney. The pick of these 8 victories would be those in 2010 and 2015.

In 2010, Penrith played a near perfect first half to hold an astonishing 40-0 lead, and whilst South Sydney hit back with a few second half tries, the home team still cracked the half century to score a 54-18 victory, with Michael Gordon scoring 30 of those points (from 3 tries and 9 goals), and thus setting the new club record for most points in a match.

In 2015, the Rabbitohs visited Penrith as defending premiers. The Panthers got the jump by holding an 18-0 lead halfway through the second half, and whilst they conceded a late try still ran out comprehensive 20-6 victors.

The last two meetings have been at Penrith – in the second round of the 2018 season, the Panthers came from behind to surge late to an 18-14 victory, whilst in 2019 the visitors held out a similar late surge from the home team to record a four point win.

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