Souths finally take advantage into prelim

·2-min read

South Sydney have given themselves their best shot at ending their preliminary finals curse, finally earning a week off at the right time of the season.

Saturday night's gritty 16-10 win over Penrith moved the Rabbitohs into their fourth straight grand final qualifier, having fallen at that step for the past three years.

But the Rabbitohs will enter with a genuine advantage this time.

In each of the three previous years they have had to do it the hard way, fighting through the second week of the finals before falling to a rested opponent.

Teams with the weeks off have won nine of the past 10 preliminary finals, and Souths will at least know they are finally on the right side of the ledger as they prepare to face Manly or the Sydney Roosters in a fortnight.

"It's huge at this time of the season," Bennett said.

"We gave a lot of players a rest last week (against St George Illawarra) and that worked great for us.

"At this time of the season if you start that game in two weeks you'll be a lot fresher than the team you're playing.

"It will even itself out after 20 minutes or so, but in the first 20 minutes you can get a real advantage."

The Rabbitohs will also head into Friday week's preliminary final knowing they made the right choice at fullback.

After a week of speculation over whether Blake Taaffe would keep the suspended Latrell Mitchell's jersey and Nathan Cleary's high balls, it looked dangerous when Taaffe spilled his first bomb.

But it was the only handling error he made all night, putting himself under pressure kicks late and also combining with Adam Reynolds to put Jaxson Paulo in for the match-deciding try.

"He did a tremendous job," Bennett said.

"We handled him really well, but more importantly he handled himself great.

"We wouldn't have put him out there if we didn't believe in him. You're not going to do that if you don't believe in him. We believe in him."

SOUTH SYDNEY'S PRELIMINARY FINAL STRUGGLES:

2018: Lost 12-4 to Sydney Roosters

2019: Lost 16-10 to Canberra

2020: Lost 20-16 to Penrith

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