South Sydney are desperate to avoid being bundled out of the finals at the hands of the Penrith Panthers for the third consecutive season after the Bunnies booked a preliminary final date with the reigning premiers.

The Rabbitohs produced a strong, attacking performance as they crushed Cronulla 38-12 at Allianz Stadium to book themselves a fifth consecutive preliminary final appearance.

The only issue? They're called the Penrith Panthers.

The reigning premiers have been ahead of the pack since the beginning of the 2020 NRL season, with South Sydney becoming a victim of the Western Sydney club's newfound success, meeting three times in the finals across the last two seasons.

Similarly to this season, the Rabbitohs finished sixth in 2020, however after sending Parramatta out in straight sets, South Sydney would meet the Panthers in a preliminary final, falling 20-16, and ending their season in the process.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 17: The Panthers celebrate winning the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on October 17, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The club would bounce back last season, not losing to a single side that wasn't named Penrith or Melbourne, and even managed to defeat the Panthers 16-10 in a Qualifying Final in Townsville.

The victory was short-lived, Cody Walker's infamous intercept pass for Stephen Crichton to pluck out of midair handing Penrith a 14-12 win, and the Provan Summons Trophy, again ending the Rabbitohs' season with a loss to Ivan Cleary's men.

There's one thing the Rabbitohs have this season that they lacked in those two crushing defeats - Latrell Mitchell.

A hamstring injury ended his season in 2020, while a suspension saw him miss the post-season last year, and the controversial fullback is making up for lost time.

Mitchell has been the entertainer of the finals series so far, and similarly to the role Wayne Bennett played in his time at the club, he's made himself the story to alleviate pressure on his teammates.

Latrell is the unstoppable force, on a collision course with the immovable object that is the reigning premiers.

While Penrith are expected to win with ease and progress to their third-straight Grand Final, South Sydney have nothing to lose on Saturday night, and could really trouble the Panthers if they are to make it third time lucky.