A depleted South Sydney Rabbitohs have made it four wins in a row tonight (Friday) against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium by 32-10 – with young guns Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner both picking up try-scoring doubles.
Without the likes of Origin representatives Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Ben Te’o – in addition to the loss of Dylan Walker, Joel Reddy and Bryson Goodwin through injury – the Rabbitohs set about deconstructing a Tigers side missing both Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods with strong performances from the Club’s young brigade.
The Tigers started poorly when straight off the kick-off, Martin Tapau dropped the ball on the very first tackle – giving the Rabbitohs first crack deep within Tigers territory. But a short-ball from halfback Adam Reynolds to Joe Picker was dropped by the back-rower early in the tackle-count – relieving the pressure from Wests.
But the visitors went straight back onto the attack, almost scoring from their first set. Poor ball-control from the Rabbitohs aided Wests in receiving repeat sets on the South Sydney line, but after three repeat sets and a near try from Pat Richards, the Rabbitohs’ defence held strong.
A charge-down from Joe Picker on the 40 metre line saw the back-rower regather close to the Tigers line, again allowing Souths an opportunity to score. John Sutton put up a well-placed cross-field kick that was regathered by Issac Luke, who in turn passed on to Alex Johnston to score out wide. Adam Reynolds made no mistake from the touch-line for a six point lead.
After the Tigers dominated the opening exchanges, the Rabbitohs began to swing momentum in their favour with some enterprising attack that almost yielded two tries to Kirisome Auva’a – the young centre being denied by inches on both occasions.
Despite being on top for much of the half, Souths’ attack struggled to convert their opportunities into points, until Kyle Turner strode through the Tigers line straight up the middle off a scrum at close-range. Adam Reynolds added the extras from in front to make it 12-0 in the Rabbitohs’ favour with the score being the same at half-time.
The second half started just as poorly for the Rabbitohs as the first did for the Tigers, with Souths taking the ball out on the full – a moment that led to the Tigers’ first try of the night through Blake Austin next to the sticks. Pat Richards converted to make it 12-6.
But Alex Johnston was about to make a huge impact. Dashing through the Wests Tigers defence who were down a full-back thanks to James Tedesco receiving treatment, Johnston turned on the pace to race 70 metres up the middle of the field to score under the sticks for his second of the night. Reynolds converted to make it 16-6.
After 13 minutes of the second half, the Rabbitohs continued to attack the Tigers line when Sam Burgess got a ball away to Nathan Merritt who slid over from close range to extend the Rabbitohs’ lead to 24-6 with Reynolds’ conversion.
With 18 minutes remaining, James Tedesco notched up a four-pointer as Kirisome Auva’a struggled with a leg injury and George Burgess left the field for treatment. Pat Richards failed to convert, with his kick hitting the upright to leave the score at 24-10.
With the clock winding down, both sides began to show signs of fatigue with silly errors beginning to creep into the game – depriving both teams of opportunities.
A line drop-out from the Tigers that went out on the full allowed Reynolds the opportunity to kick his side a further two points ahead from right in front to make it 26-10 with six minutes left.
With a minutes left on the clock, Kyle Turner bagged his second of the night to make the final score 32-10.
Rabbitohs 32 (Alex Johnston 2, Kyle Turner 2, Nathan Merritt, tries; Adam Reynolds 6 goals)
Tigers 10 (Blake Austin, James Tedesco, tries; Pat Richards 1 goal)