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Can in-form Souths topple the Panthers?

Can the South Sydney Rabbitohs rise to the occasion this week against the Penrith Panthers and reinforce the statement made from the 26-0 win against the Parramatta Eels?

Thursday night’s clash features several players coming back from injuries. Rabbitohs strike centre Campbell Graham returns from his six-week stint on the sidelines due to a cheekbone fracture, as well as young halfback Lachlan Illias, after being rested last week because of back and hamstring concerns.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards also returns from a sternum injury. Despite this, the Panthers lack the star-studded half-combination of Nathan Cleary (suspension) and Jarome Luai (knee).

The Rabbitohs are currently in scintillating form and are a shoo-in for a win against the Panthers if they maintain their current form. The monumental win against the Eels last week made the likes of Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker shine off the back of a fast start that put the Eels in a difficult position early in the game.

Of the 17-man squad that took the field for the Rabbitohs against Parramatta, 13 players ran for over 100 metres.

Penrith’s 16-0 loss against the Melbourne Storm was a concerning sign for last year’s premiers. The 12 errors accumulated throughout the match largely contributed to their lacklustre performance. The scoreline, however, did not reflect the Panthers’ constant defensive efforts to shut down Melbourne’s firing attack.

Head to head: Latrell Mitchell vs Dylan Edwards

Both fullbacks are instrumental parts of their team’s winning success. Latrell Mitchell put on a phenomenal display of rugby league last week, making 14 runs for a commendable 211 run metres. His single try assist for Alex Johnston’s second try conveys the versatility of Latrell’s playing capabilities.

The wide-spread pass over the heads of two Parramatta defenders into the hands of Alex was the perfect example of his precision.

While Dylan Edwards did not play last week, his playing abilities are also highly proficient. His Round 21 performance against the Raiders was remarkable: he had a total of 191 run metres and was thoroughly engaged in the game, being exactly where the Panthers needed him for most of the night.

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His try in the 54th minute of the game emphasised his continual efforts throughout the contest. His strength and footwork were displayed as his team won the clash against the Raiders 26-6.

Both players must demonstrate their wide range of abilities for their side to win the second grand final rematch of the year at Accor Stadium. A win is paramount for both teams.

However, the Rabbitohs are currently in deadly form, whilst the Panthers, despite coming off a loss, have been in form all season. A fast and intense start from both teams will lay the platform for a clinical game of strike attack and defence.

If the Rabbitohs sustain their superb form, another clinic may threaten the depleted Panthers.

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