‘We’ve got to turn up for a war’: Bunnies eye Penrith revenge after advancing to prelim

Jason Demetriou has declared his side must “turn up for a war” if they are to vanquish Penrith in their preliminary final next weekend. 

After dispatching with Cronulla during a lopsided clash, South Sydney’s coach claimed his team’s focus had already switched to what they can do against the Panthers as they aim to gain revenge for their grand final defeat last year. 

In the end, the Rabbitohs made light work of a Cronulla outfit which failed to turn up on the big stage. The Bunnies claiming the ascendancy early with a try to Mark Nicholls after just two minutes.

MORE: Cronulla crash out of the finals after comprehensive defeat to South Sydney 

The soft try, which saw the front-rower barge over from close range, set the tone for the rest of the game where the Sharks couldn’t physically match it with their opponents. 

Souths went into the interval 18-0 up and were never really threatened in the second half, as they made the preliminary finals for the fifth time in a row.

“I was pretty pleased as a coach to see how they were flipping their minds straight to the task that’s coming up next week,” Demetriou said. 

“For this group, it’s about going one better than we did last year. That’s where the mindset went straight after the game.”

The Bunnies proved far too strong for a Sharks side who were bundled out of the finals with back-to-back losses. However, it was a messy contest throughout, with both teams guilty of failing to secure the ball and forcing the pass. 

“We were a bit clumsy with the footy,” the coach admitted. 

“It was probably a bit looser than we thought it was going to be. We all thought we were the [Harlem] Globetrotters and thought we could throw offloads every two minutes.”

Demetriou was keen to point out how that same approach would quickly come unstuck against Ivan Cleary’s men. 

“I know that with Penrith, if we give them that kind of ball, they’ll lock us in our own end and make it near impossible to get off our try line. So, we’ve got to address that,” he said.

Souths completed just 25 of their 37 sets yet were able to pile on the points which was a positive sign for the coach. But he implored his troops to exercise more patience against the Panthers and trust in their ability to put score board pressure on the reigning premiers. 

“I’m not disappointed when we’re playing footy and coming up with the odd execution error,” Demetriou said. 

“But forcing offloads that we don’t need to force was the area [I wasn’t happy with.] If we’re offloading to a guy in a better position, then I’m more than happy. I love offloads.

“We’re one of the best teams at going play-for-play in the competition, so we don’t need to force it because we’ll get them on the next play. That’s probably the mindset that we need to take into next week.”

The Rabbitohs will have their work cut out for them having had to battle for two straight weeks in do-or-die matches, while Penrith have had the chance to refresh after beating Parramatta a fortnight ago. 

“We’re under no illusions that this is the hardest task in the game at the moment,” Demetriou said. 

“It’s not rocket science. They play a field position game off the back of Nathan Cleary’s kicking.

“They complete high and put you under a lot of pressure. They break you down physically and I’ve no doubt that’s how they’re going to play- they’ve done it for three years.

“We’ve got to be able to take that and defend our try-line and keep turning them away.”

MORE: Parramatta ‘kicked to death’ by the returning Nathan Cleary 

However, the coach was bullish when it came to his side’s chances of causing an upset and advancing to the grand final, where they will face either North Queensland or the Eels. 

“We’ve got to challenge the score board. We can’t think that to beat Penrith we can just go set-for-set and hope that we can win 6-4.

“We’ll go in with a plan on how to disrupt their line speed and minimise the effect they have with their defence.

“We’re here for a reason and we’ve got to turn up for a war next week.” 

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