The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the Wests Tigers in Round 14 by 34-6 at ANZ Stadium tonight (Friday).
Despite receiving a boost before kick-off with the return of Adam Reynolds to the fold, the Tigers put on an enthusiastic and controlled performance to down the red and greens in a six tries to one effort in front of 15,118 Members and supporters.
Just seven minutes into the first half, the Tigers opened the scoring when a back-line movement saw the ball swing outside the last Rabbitohs defender before finding the hands of James Tedesco who planted the ball down. Pat Richards converted to make it 6-0.
Martin Taupau backed up the earlier effort when he hit a short-ball close to the line – a gap opening up in the Rabbitohs defence to give the Tigers a 12 point lead with Richards’ conversion.
After a roaring start from the Tigers 15 minutes in, Luke Brooks’ final tackle kick went out on the full, finally allowing the Rabbitohs to have a crack at the Tigers’ line. The mistake would prove costly when Bryson Goodwin forced his way over a few tackles later in what was Souths’ first meaningful attacking raid of the game. Reynolds made no mistake from out wide to narrow the game to 12-6.
An arm wrestle ensued with both sides searching in vain to find an advantage and points. Reynolds came within inches of grabbing a forty-twenty for his side only to be denied by a desperate Kevin Naiqama batting the ball in play at the last second.
With the clock winding down in the first half, a combination of penalties and errors from the Rabbitohs saw them under pressure on their own line and having to defend repeat sets. The red and green defence held strong though, with the sides going to the break with Wests leading by 12-6.
On the resumption, despite some great early charges from the likes of Rabbitohs forward Chris Grevsmuhl, it was the Tigers who would score points through Luke Brooks – the young halfback leaving the Rabbitohs defensive-line clutching at straws as he raced through to score a try just inside touch. Richards added the extras to make it 18-6.
The Rabbitohs continued to look for points, with Thomas Burgess being used as a battering ram close to the line. But the Englishman was held up over the line despite his better efforts. But it would be the Tigers who would score yet again when Taupau crashed over for his second of the evening out wide to make it 22-6.
Another Rabbitohs error, 10 metres out from their own line on a bomb diffusion, set the Tigers up for another try to all but seal victory through centre David Nofoaluma. Richards converted from right in from to make it 28-6 with 10 minutes to go.
Bryson Goodwin almost bagged himself a second four-pointer when he attempted to pick up a grubber-kick in the in-goal, but the centre was unable to control the ball.
James Tedesco grabbed himself a second try with seconds remaining to take the final score to 34-6 with Richards’ conversion to round out the match.
The Rabbitohs will now have the bye in Round 15 before going on to take on the Sea Eagles and Panthers, closely followed by their second bye of the year in Round 18.
Tigers 34 (James Tedesco 2, Martin Taupau 2, Luke Brooks, David Nofoaluma, tries; Pat Richards 5 goals)
Rabbitohs 6 (Bryson Goodwin, tries; Adam Reynolds 1 goals)