As the Panthers hole for finals footy pursuing their decisive triumph implicit Parramatta connected Friday night, Penrith manager Ivan Cleary refused to beryllium lulled into underestimating their adjacent opponent, the Rabbitohs, contempt Souths losing Latrell Mitchell for the remainder of the season.
Helped by a Brian To'o hat-trick, the Panthers ran distant with a 40-6 triumph connected the Gold Coast implicit an undermanned Eels outfit with a big of stars rested up of the finals. Meanwhile Cleary opted to play a full-strength broadside to physique momentum arsenic they hole for their adjacent duty - South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs volition beryllium without prima fullback Mitchell for the remainder of the year aft his shocking deed connected Joseph Manu past week earned him a six-week suspension. Cleary admitted it volition beryllium a "different" outlook playing South Sydney with Mitchell sidelined, but said his omission presented different challenges.
"We've played Souths a fewer times implicit the years, large games too. We cognize a spot astir them and they cognize a spot astir us. They're [still] an incredibly unsafe team. It's going to beryllium a large challenge. We cognize however to bushed them but knowing and doing it, is simply a antithetic thing," Cleary said pursuing his side's large triumph implicit Parramatta.
"Whenever you suffer 1 of the champion players successful the crippled [Mitchell], you can't needfully regenerate them antheral to man.
"Whoever they bring successful volition person a antithetic skillset.
"But 1 antheral ne'er makes a team. He [Mitchell] wasn't playing this clip past twelvemonth either and they were inactive beauteous hard to beat."
The adjacent antheral up is Blake Taaffe to capable the void near by Mitchell, but South Sydney manager Wayne Bennett told media helium volition hold to spot however the youngster fares against St George Illawarra connected Saturday earlier deciding whether helium tin support the No.1 jersey for the finals.
Cleary was encouraged by what helium saw from his men connected Friday against the Eels.
They were kept successful cheque successful the archetypal fractional but a much-improved 2nd fractional saw their people radiance through, with To'o a standout, bagging his archetypal hat-trick successful the NRL connected his instrumentality from an ankle wounded that kept him retired of enactment for 5 weeks.
"He's conscionable amazing," the Panthers manager said of the hat-trick hero.
"He said consecutive aft helium had the country this clip that it felt amended than past time. We were hoping helium mightiness beryllium capable to bushed the six-week people - helium ended up doing it a week earlier.
"Not conscionable coming back, but looking similar he'd ne'er been retired oregon injured. He's remarkable, truthful surely gladsome he's connected our team.
"We've got a fewer guys similar that, we've got players that bring the champion retired of different radical and bring a definite energy. That's contagious. That's different crushed I wanted to play each the boys together."
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Cleary boasted astir the team's antiaircraft efforts connected the year, and however it enactment them successful bully stead to execute further success.
"I'm decidedly blessed with however we're sitting and wherever we're positioned for adjacent week," helium said.
"I'm truly blessed wherever we are. I'm precise arrogant of the play we've enactment unneurotic - the fig 1 antiaircraft team. To execute an mean of 12 points against america a game... to beryllium capable to backmost up from past year... that's a beauteous large achievement."
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The lone sour enactment connected the nighttime for the Panthers was a superior wrist wounded to Scott Sorensen which could awesome the extremity of his 2021 season.
"I deliberation he's dislocated his wrist," Cleary told media post-game.
"I can't ideate however achy that mightiness beryllium due to the fact that helium couldn't enactment it backmost it. Obviously anticipation for the champion for him. He'd beryllium doing it a spot hard astatine the moment."
The Panthers volition conscionable South Sydney adjacent week successful what promises to beryllium a tantilising finals clash, aft Penrith ended the Rabbitohs' play past twelvemonth successful a preliminary final.
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