Latrell Mitchell act comes to light after Souths' win over Sharks
Latrell Mitchell has been praised for a 'beautiful' act of sportsmanship towards Cronulla rival Nicho Hynes following the Rabbitohs' semi-final victory over the Sharks.
Souths easily dispatched Cronulla 38-12 on Saturday night to book a date with Penrith in a fifth-straight preliminary final.
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On a dominant night for the Rabbitohs, Cameron Murray was brilliant in the do-or-die semi-final, while Lachlan Ilias also stood up and Taane Milne scored two tries.
Mitchell also produced a brilliant display, but arguably saved his best act for after full-time.
The Souths fullback could be seen consoling a devastated Hynes after the match, offering some words of consolation to the Cronulla halfback.
Mitchell picked Hynes up from the ground and put his arm around his vanquished opponent after the Sharks' season was ended with back-to-back finals losses.
Phil Rothfield described it as a “beautiful moment of sportsmanship” in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
In an ominous sign for their reunion with Penrith, Mitchell and five-eighth Cody Walker were arguably in second gear in their win over the Sharks.
The Panthers, who have only lost just four games all season, will go into Saturday's game oozing with confidence.
Their first-choice side have played one game a fortnight over the last month, while Souths have been put through the ringer.
But while Mitchell cheekily said in a post-game interview with the Nine Network he was happy Souths were on the "right side of the draw", coach Jason Demetriou described the challenge as the NRL equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
"I think Latrell means it's a game where we are getting them before the GF," Demetriou said.
"They (Penrith) are a highly motivated team and they work really hard for each other.
"We're under no illusions that this is the hardest task in the game at the moment.
"I think over the last three years, they've been pretty hard to beat.
"We can't just think that to beat Penrith, we can go set for set and hope that we can win 6-4 - we've got to challenge the scoreboard."
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Since the start of the 2020 season, Souths have only defeated Penrith once in eight attempts, producing a shock upset in the first week of the 2021 finals series before being pipped by the Panthers in the grand final.
The Rabbitohs kept a lid on celebrations on Saturday night, with Souths hooker Damien Cook telling reporters they would need to take their game to new heights next week.
"After the game we weren't jumping around and carrying on about how excited we are because the job's not done," Cook said.
"We can't be making easy errors and giving up field position because Nathan and Jarome can keep us locked down in our end and do what they did to us in the grand final.
"We've got to be really clean coming out of our own end and be disciplined as well."
There are also injury concerns for forwards Jai Arrow and Siliva Havili along with winger Alex Johnston, but Cook said the Rabbitohs thrived when the odds were against them.
"Backs against the wall brings out the best in us," he said.
"We just need to make sure stay calm in those situations and stick to our footy and not let the other team dictate how we defend or attack."
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