South Sydney fans were treated to an absolutely electric display from Latrell Mitchell as the Rabbitohs earned a sensational 20-18 NRL win over reigning premiers Penrith on Thursday night. Mitchell was up and about early as the two sides engaged in an entertaining arm-wrestle of a contest.
Mitchell's stunning flick pass to set up the Rabbitohs first try sent a surge through the crowd, as the pass to Alex Johnson sparked a surge up the field. Damien Cook crossed soon after the one-two action between Mitchell and Johnson opened the field up, with the flick pass described as 'one of the best I've ever seen' by Fox League commentator Andrew Voss.
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However the Panthers were able to counter with some brilliance of their own in the shadows of half time, as Spencer Leniu barrelled his way down the wing to put the reigning premiers in scoring position. Stephen Crichton was able to get over the line on the next tackle, nailing the conversion as well with Nathan Cleary battling a groin injury.
Mitchell added a slight blemish to what was shaping up to be a sensational game when his dropout attempt in the 48th minute was fired out on the full, gifting the Panthers a field goal. But he made up for it soon after with a try-saving tackle on Sunia Turuva.
He then put the Panthers back in front by barging his way over the line past two defenders in the 57th minute. Still, the premiership Panthers simply wouldn't go away, as Crighton crossed once more, before he looked to have sealed the game for Penrith with just 10 minutes to play.
But once again it was Mitchell who rose to the occasion. He crossed again in the 76th minute to strike fear in Panthers hearts, but it was Cleary who prevented him from doing so again just two minutes later with a desperate try-saver of his own.
It would come to nought for the Panthers though, with Mitchell once again having a hand in what would be the game-winning try. He found Johnson once again with a cut-out pass, who worked a no-look pass of his own to Isaiah Tass who scored the game-winner with just a minute to play.
Commentators Michael Ennis and Voss were in awe of the display put on by Mitchell, which came just a few weeks after Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou implored his side to get him more involved early in the game.
“He is reaping the rewards of this superstar fullback who just changed the game on a dime, just completely changed the whole concept of the game,” Ennis said of Cook's try to open the Rabbitohs scoring. “As the Panthers were grafting and grinding and starting to get over the top of South Sydney, it was the (Zac) Hosking error and in the blink of an eye it was Latrell Mitchell that turned this game on its head with a miraculous flick pass.”
Two awesome tries to Latrell Mitchell ❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚
— Deon Tsang ❤️💚 (@deon_tsang12) April 20, 2023
Might revive the old Rugby League Week player ratings so I can give Latrell a 10 after that one, holy hell
— Nick Campton (@campo37) April 20, 2023
One of the more incredible finishes I've seen live.
South Sydney looked out of it. And then in the final 5 mins, looked like they were going to score everytime they went left.
Latrell, Cody and Johnston all stood up when it mattered.#NRLSouthsPantherspic.twitter.com/7lVYgqppBJ
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) April 20, 2023
Latrell Mitchell & Stephen Crichton 😍🤯 😳
— Damian Irvine (@damianirvine) April 20, 2023
Latrell Mitchell rewards faith from Jason Demetriou
Following his call to get Mitchell more involved, Demetriou after the game was thrilled that both player and team were able to reap the rewards.
"When he gets in the game early, he sends a message to himself but most importantly to his teammates," Demetriou said. "He had some real energy about him.
"He brings sometimes a dimension that is unstructured as well, when he is playing through the middle, offloads and supports people. He gets us on the front foot a bit. But it wasn't going to be about one individual tonight. One individual doesn't beat Penrith."
Ultimately, it was enough to cancel out Crichton's brilliance for Penrith. In a back-and-forth match, Jarome Luai looked threatening with most his touches in attack while Turuva finished off the field with a foot injury.
"It's a cruel game sometimes," coach Ivan Cleary said. "When you are up by eight inside the final 10, you like to think you could sew it up.
"But if there is one team you don't want to be playing when they were like that tonight, it's probably Souths."
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