The Rabbitohs might not have gotten the result they were after on Friday night but a classy moment in the first half of the game would’ve given their fans plenty to smile about.
Early in their top-four clash with the Panthers, the Rabbitohs found themselves up by two tries and running the ball out of their own 20.
Souths had thrown plenty at Penrith’s vaunted defence, so it was little surprise to see the Mountain Men muscling up extra hard without ball in hand.
In an effort to contain the elusive Campbell Graham, Penrith’s Dylan Edwards and Viliame Kikau knocked heads, leaving Edwards dazed on the ground.
In a matter of moments, three Rabbitohs — Adam Reynolds, Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook — were checking in on Edwards’ welfare.
Edwards was left dazed after a head clash with Kikau. Image: Fox SportsSource:FOX SPORTS
While footage showed Edwards telling co-captain Isaah Yeo that he felt okay to continue the game, he was subbed off for an HIA and did not return.
NRL pundits applauded the quick thinking and sportsmanship of the Rabbitohs triumvirate after they showed concern for Edwards’ welfare.
In the wash-up of tonight’s game, congrats to Souths players for rushing to Dylan Edwards following his head clash. Pure class. #gloryglory 🐇 #NRLPanthersSouths
How about the duty of care from Latrell Mitchell, Adam Reynolds and Damien Cook for Dylan Edwards after that head clash. Quality stuff #NRLPanthersSouthspic.twitter.com/v9ADmEtBXd
The moment was reminiscent of another touching display of sportsmanship in a Panthers match last season.
Almost a year ago to the date, Eels forward Ryan Matterson helped Penrith’s Apisai Koroisau stay on his feet following a similarly nasty head knock.
Matterson won the praise of Panthers fans and rugby league experts alike on that occasion as well.
Edwards’ departure from the field ultimately proved a turning point for the Panthers, who were down 12-0 with 15 minutes to play in the first stanza when they lost their fullback.
Edwards may be forced to miss next week’s clash with the Tigers. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Stephen Crichton shifted into Edwards’ place, pushing Paul Momirovski to the wing. From there, Momirovski proved an unlikely source of attacking inspiration for the Panthers. He put in two immaculate kicks from the right flank to set up tries for Crichton and co-captain Nathan Cleary.
Momirovski’s precision with the boot helped Penrith close the gap to two points at the break, before Cleary, in his second game back from a long injury lay-off, managed to steer the ship and lock up a 13-point win.
Souths and Penrith have both already cemented top-four finishes but the victory moved the Panthers one win clear in second place.
The two sides are all but guaranteed to meet in the first week of the finals for what promises to be another high-octane meeting of genuine title contenders.
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