Almanac Rugby League – It’s a party and I’ll cry if I want to

Given we had volunteered to host my brother-in-law’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to watch the Panthers play their round three game against the Rabbitohs. In desperation I setup the recorder in advance, but after a couple of beers, Ray asked if I wanted to watch the footy. I didn’t need to be asked twice and we played the recording from the beginning amidst a boisterous party atmosphere.

Although Souths were yet to win a game, I did not feel confident about Penrith’s chances. The Bunnies form wasn’t bad, having thrown away an almost certain victory against the Roosters in round one and competed strongly with title heavy weights the Melbourne Storm in round two.

Within twelve minutes Penrith found themselves down 18-0, an exact reversal of what they had achieved in eighty minutes the previous week. The carnage started with a Travis Burns dropped ball off the kickoff and was rounded out twelve minutes later by a Dave Taylor piece of magic when he ran from dummy half, grubber kicked through and beat Lachlan Coote to the ball to score the third try for the Bunnies.

South’s forwards attacked the Panthers with the ferocity of a memo from Bob Carr to the PNG Government, trapping them deep in their own half.  The only thing making it bearable was the nibblies tray which popped up at frequent intervals to provide sustenance.

Penrith gradually worked their way back into the match with tries to Kevin Kingston and Travis Burns. At 18-12 after thirty five minutes, I was hopeful for a good showing in the second half, but in the last three minutes of the first half, Penrith gave away not one, but two penalties for late contact with the kicker. Both penalties were converted and Souths stretched their lead to a much safer ten points at oranges.

During the half-time break we fired up the Bar-B-Q in order to cook dinner. My sister-in-law offered to do the cooking to enable me to watch the rest of the match, an offer gratefully accepted. Alas, the second half was a comedy of errors: the Bar-B-Q ran out of gas, it started raining on the chef and six-month old Ethan spewed on Nanny’s shoulder.

For Panther fans, the football wasn’t too flash either. Inglis was causing havoc from the back and scythed through the defensive line before barging over Lachlan Coote for an early try. A further pair of tries was scored by each team, resulting in a score of 40-24 in Souths favour after seventy one minutes. At that point I had to pause the coverage of the footy because dinner was ready. Given the state of proceedings, I wasn’t overly disappointed to leave the footy and thoroughly enjoyed dinner and the light-hearted conversation which followed.

When it came time to sing happy birthday, two-year old Caitlin chose pink candles which seemed to be the same shade as the Panther’s shirts. Ray protested, arguing that men shouldn’t have pink – a point that seems to have escaped the Penrith hierarchy. Caitlin relented and selected a range of coloured candles for the cake. We sang a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and lazed around over desert in a sated state.

I watched the last nine minutes a couple of hours later. I needn’t have bothered. More errors, a disallowed try to Adam Reynolds and no further points saw a final scoreline of 40-24 in Souths favour. I’m glad the party was fun, because for this diehard Panthers fan, the footy was none too enjoyable.

The signs are encouraging for the Rabbitohs, who were well served by Inglis, Taylor, Reynolds and Sutton, whilst it’s back to the drawing board for an inconsistent Penrith outfit.

Souths 40 (Everingham, Asotasi, Taylor 2, Inglis, McQueen tries, Reynolds 8/8 goals) def. Penrith 24 (Kingston, Burns 2, Smith tries, Walsh 4/4 goals).

Venue: CUA Stadium, Penrith

Votes: 3-Inglis (Sou), 2-Taylor (Sou), 1-Reynolds (Sou)

Milestones: Everingham: debut.

Pete Abela is an author. You can view Pete’s site here.

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