NRL: Souths stay unbeaten with thriller

Josh Papalii of the Raiders is tackled during the round three NRL match against the St George Illawarra Dragons. Photo / Getty Images
Josh Papalii of the Raiders is tackled during the round three NRL match against the St George Illawarra Dragons. Photo / Getty Images

South Sydney survived a stirring second-half fightback from Penrith to score a victory and maintain their unbeaten start to the NRL season.

Penrith clawed their way back from 34-16 at halftime to get within two points of the Rabbitohs with just under 10 minutes remaining at Centrebet Stadium in Sydney.

But the Rabbitohs kicked clear with two late tries including the final four-pointer of the day to winger Nathan Merritt, who scored a hat-trick in the 14-try thriller.

St George Illawarra's 13-year hoodoo in Canberra continues after a brilliant Reece Robinson double sparked the Raiders to a 30-17 victory, their first of the NRL season.

Robinson proved life after fullback Josh Dugan won't be so hard for the Green Machine, scoring two tries and involving himself in another.

A deft chip kick from Dragons halfback Nathan Fien had winger Brett Morris open the scoring in the 17th minute when he both caught and placed the ball whilst in mid-air.

But after a shaky start the Raiders' ball security improved light years beyond the previous two weeks, starving the Dragons of possession and keeping up the pressure throughout.

Rabbitohs 44
Panthers 32

Raiders 30
Dragons 17

- AAP

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