The South Sydney Rabbitohs have survived a late Wests Tigers flood of points in the NYC to claim victory in round three at ANZ Stadium.
Inside the final 10 minutes of the match, the Tigers took the lead for the very first time thanks to a spirited revival. But a final try to winger Damon Goolagong inside the final two minutes of the clash sealed the result.
It didn’t take long for the Rabbitohs to find first points – the side grabbing a brilliant opening try courtesy of a brilliant cross-field chip from Jordie Hedges to an unmarked Josh Ellison to score in the corner. Hedges added the extras to give the Rabbitohs a six-point lead.
A struggle between the two sides ensued as they battled for supremacy in the middle of the field. But it was the Tigers who looked the most dangerous as they carved their way through the middle of the Rabbitohs’ defence on multiple occasions – the men in red and green relying on the defensive prowess of fullback, Irae Simone.
Inside the final ten minutes of the opening half, the Rabbitohs finally managed to break the stalemate when winger Damon Goolagong crossed for the Club’s second try. Hedges converted to give the home side a 12-0 lead going into the break.
The Rabbitohs continued to dominate proceedings after half-time, with the side looking dangerous with each attacking raid.
Next points would come from hooker Aaron Booth, who went over from dummy-half in similar fashion to his four-pointer against the Roosters in round two. Hedges again made no mistake to take the score out to 18-0 with just over half an hour remaining.
But a Tigers revival was brewing. The Tigers finally hit-back less than five minutes after the Rabbitohs’ try when superior numbers out wide saw winger Ryland Jacobs stroll over. Eli Levido converted from the touch-line to bring the score to 18-6.
Wests backed up the effort when Esan Marsters crossed for his side’s second of the afternoon right next to the sticks. Levido added the extras to make it a six point ball-game at 18-12.
Watso Heleta raced over for the side’s third successive try to bring the visitors within two points of the red and greens at 18-16 with 13 minutes remaining on the clock. While Levido missed the conversion attempt, the halfback made no mistake a minute later when the Tigers were awarded a penalty-goal from virtually right in front.
With the clock winding down, another penalty to the Tigers on the same spot allowed Levido to take the lead for his team for the first time in the match at 20-18.
But the Rabbitohs would have the final say in the match, with Damon Goolagong claiming a match-winning try at the death to secure the side’s second victory of the season by 24-20.
Rabbitohs 24 (Josh Ellison, Damon Goolagong 2, Aaron Booth, tries; Jordie Hedges 4 goals)
Tigers 20 (Ryland Jacobs, Esan Marsters, Watson Heleta, tries; Eli Levido 4 goals)