Played in sunny conditions at CUA Stadium in Penrith, the home side had the wind at their backs in the first half and capitalised to dominate possession and field position, racing away to a 16-0 lead after just 22 minutes of play.
The Rabbitohs finally got the board in the 31st minute but the Panthers struck back three minutes later.
At half time, Penrith held a commanding 22-6 lead.
In match of two halves, Suth Sydney came storming back and were able to score three tries to nil in the second stanza. The Panthers replied with just two penalty goals, and in the end this was enough to get them their first victory of 2008.
The loss for Souths sees them still without a win after three starts. The club have been further dampened by news that captain and forward Roy Asotasi is in doubt after suffering a heavy knock late in the first half. Rabbitohs hooker and goal kicker Isaac Luke is also under an injury cloud after being forced from the field with a suspected broken hand in the second half.
Match Details Round 3 - March 30th, 2008 2:00pm Venue: CUA Stadium, Penrith Referee: Tony De Las Heras
Penrith Panthers 26 Tries: Brad Tighe (2), Maurice Blair, Adam Woolnough Goals: Jarrod Sammut (5/6) South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 Tries: Fetuli Talanoa, John Sutton, Michael Greenfield, Dean Widders Goals: Issac Luke (2/2), George Ndaira (1/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Petero Civoniceva (Panthers) 2 Points: John Sutton (Rabbitohs) 1 Point: Michael Greenfield (Rabbitohs)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to CUA Stadium in Penrith. A sunny day in Sydney's west and a great day for football.
Kick off! Panthers will have a good breeze to assist them in the first half.
17 min: Rabbitohs forward Michael Greenfield is replaced after suffering a rib injury following a heavy tackle. Panthers dominating with over 65% possession and plenty of quality field position.
22 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Five eighth Maurice Blair gets benefit of the doubt following a kick into the in-goal. Souths should have cleaned it up but were guilty of a mixup in communication, in particular fullback Nathan Merritt seemingly unable to deal with rolling football. A close call in the end. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut successful. Penrith Panthers 16-0
26 min: NO TRY - Souths denied after Panthers winger Luke Rooney is deemed to have forced the ball. Follows a kick through and another close call for the video ref.
31 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Centre Fetuli Talanoa scores following a great offload midfield, Talanoa running some 40m and just managing to step around the fullback on the way. Conversion attempt from right in front by Issac Luke is successful. Penrith Panthers 16-6
34 min: TRY Penrith Panthers Interchange forward Adam Woolnough scores 11m wide of the posts. Some ordinary defence from Souths as the Penrith runners were lining up from close range. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Sammut successful. Penrith Panthers 22-6
Half time: Penrith Panthers 22-6
Second half underway...
44 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Five eighth John Sutton slips through some would-be defenders from close range to give the Rabbitohs the start they needed for the second half. Simple conversion attempt by Issac Luke successful. Penrith Panthers 22-12
NEWS - Souths now down to a two man bench with hooker Issac Luke heading up the tunnel.
57 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs Prop forward Michael Greenfield comes back from injury, grubber kicks for himself, the ball bounces off the upright, and Greenfield scores under the posts. Conversion attempt by George Ndaira successful. Penrith Panthers 24-18
77 min: Final stages and both sides throwing everything at each other. Panthers look to be just hanging on but there's still time for Souths.
79 min: Souths forced into a line drop out. That should be enough to get Penrith home.
Panthers 26 - Rabbitohs 22 A great fight back from Souths, enjoying a majority 53% possession at full time, but in the end close enough wasn't good enough. Panthers hanging on and winning thanks to a strong performance in the first half. Our man of the match is Penrith prop and skipper Petero Civoniceva who carved up over 160 metres and tackled his heart out.