The South Sydney Rabbitohs travelled to face the Minor Premiers Penrith Panthers, with a spot in the Grand Final at stake in the second Preliminary Final.
The Rabbitohs should have been the first to pick up points after a controversial penalty allowed Adam Reynolds to take a shot at goal.
However, the half-back couldn’t get his kick on target, in what was justice for the Panthers.
At the end of the seven-tackle set, Dylan Edwards cleaned up the loose ball, but was stripped of the ball from Corey Allan who went close to the line.
After a quick play-the-ball, Reynolds kicked towards Alex Johnston on the first tackle and the winger claimed the ball for his 23rd try of the season.
A few minutes later, Nathan Cleary kicked towards Johnston, who dropped the ball in the contest.
The loose ball was gathered by Brian To’o who stepped past Allan and scored.
In the 15th minute, Jarome Luai caused a nightmare on the left edge to put Josh Mansour through on the left edge, and the winger passed inside to Kurt Capewell for a certain try.
However, the pass drifted forward and the score remained 6-6.
With 13 minutes to go until the break, and after plenty of back and forth, Penrith took the lead.
After getting to within two-metres, Nathan Cleary put in a little floated kick over the top and Tyrone May caught the ball and touched down behind the posts.
Penrith were dominating the game in the middle of the park with solid defence being backed up with completed sets.
With 90-seconds left until the half-time hooter, the Panthers picked up a penalty after Jed Cartwright ran Stephen Crichton off the ball and Cleary extended the lead to eight-points.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 14-6 South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs had already lost Bailey Sironen to a knee injury, and just three minutes in to half, Allan picked up a knock himself.
The full-back was able to carry on but was hobbling for a few minutes.
With half an hour remaining, Cameron Murray made a barraging run on the left, and following a quick ruck, the ball found Dane Gagai who did enough to keep his feet in touch and ground the ball to pull the scores back.
Just before the hour mark, Api Koroisau picked up a knock to his shoulder as he went to tackle Reynolds, and had to leave the field.
That didn’t stop the Panthers though as Stephen Crichton broke back on the inside, and was metres from the line before Alex Johnston, on the opposite wing, brought the centre down.
Koroisau returned after a painkilling injection, and but was not on the field as the Minor Premiers extended their lead.
Isaah Yeo stepped through the line after brushing off Damien Cook before passing back inside to Dylan Edwards for an easy score.
In the 73rd minute, Souths once again got themselves over the line.
A poor pass from Cody Walker hit the deck, but was kicked ahead by Corey Allan, not once, but twice, and then was grounded by the winger.
A few minutes later, Reynolds kicked long for looked like a 40/20 but his standing foot was not behind the line, giving the ball back to Penrith on their own ten-metre line.
The Panthers had the ball in hand in the final minute, and on the last tackle opted not to kick the ball over the touchline.
A last ditch attempt to score from deep from the Rabbitohs did not pay off though, and the Panthers moved onto their first final in 17-years.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 20-16 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Edwards, Mansour, Crichton, May, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Capewell, Martin, Yeo
Interchanges: Naden, Leota, Tetevano, Kenny
Tries: To’o, May, Edwards
Goals: Cleary (4/4)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Allan, Johnston, Gagai, Sironen, Paulo, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Murray, Knight
Interchanges: Nicholls, Cartwright, Koloamatangi, Sele
Tries: Johnston, Gagai, Allan
Goals: Reynolds (2/4)
Referee: G. Sutton
Touch Judges: T. Smith, D. Munro
Video Referee: S. Chiddy
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)