The Penrith Panthers are into the club’s first grand final in 17 years after a 20-16 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
But it could have been much different if not for a matter of foot placement, as the Rabbitohs’ Adam Reynolds was denied one of the plays of the season.
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With four minutes left after drawing four points behind the minor premiers, Reynolds took a kick for a 40-20, but his foot was on the 40m line.
Reynolds thought he had done it, but referee Gerard Sutton awarded a scrum to the Panthers 10m out.
Regardless, Braith Anasta was blown away by the play.
“What a kick, even if this is not a 40-20, what a play, what a kick,” Anasta said.
“And his foot was on the line. Enormous call. What about the kick still? That’s crazy.”
Smith said it was “half a size 10” from being a massive play.
For a 40-20, the kicker has to stay behind the 40m line.
“What a shame,” Andrew Johns said. “That was incredible, when you think about it, to get to the position and then get that kick off at such an acute angle.”
Phil Gould added: “Wow, that was a massive play, a brilliant play, dethroned by two inches.”
The preliminary final was hardly a classic with mistakes aplenty — 25 between the teams — but the Panthers held on for a historic milestone.
The club’s 17th straight win takes it equal with the 2002 Bulldogs, who had all the their points deducted for breaching the salary cap.
The only streak ahead of the side is the 1975-76 Roosters, who had 19 straight victories.
The Panthers led 14-6 at the break, but the Rabbitohs fought back to score in the 49th minute when Dane Gagai somehow grounded the ball behind his head to make it a two point ball-game.
With the game on the line, it took until the 66th minute — with nothing seemingly happening — for Isaah Yeo to break the Souths line and pass to Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards to score.
At 20-12 the game appeared over, but Corey Allan made magic out of a horrible pass that landed on his feet on the left flank, grubbering for himself before grounding the ball in goal to set up a grandstand finish.
It ignited the game and set up a tremendous ending – but the Rabbitohs fell just short with the Panthers to face the Melbourne Storm in next Sunday night’s decider.