The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the West Tigers by 30-22 in Round 9 at ANZ Stadium, despite a spirited comeback from the men in Red and Green.
The Rabbitohs endured a horror opening period that saw the Tigers score 20 points in as many minutes before going on to score another three tries. But the poor start would ultimately prove costly.
A penalty to the Tigers on the very first tackle of the match saw the visitors come away with the early advantage, and after a number of sets on the Rabbitohs line, James Tedesco pounced on a grubber-kick in-goal and planted it down simultaneously with the Rabbitohs defender. The Bunker was consulted, who duly awarded the try. Jordan Rankin converted to make it 6-0 in favour of the Tigers.
With Souths looking slow out of the blocks, the Tigers took full advantage by showing plenty of enthusiasm, eventually resulting in a three on two situation on the short-side that would result in a try to Rankin to make it 10-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Rabbitohs mere minutes later when Luke Brooks chipped over the top – the ball bouncing oddly in front of Greg Inglis before the Tigers halfback regathered to score, taking the score to 14-0 after 16 minutes of play.
Right on the 20 minute mark the Tigers looked to extend their lead, and managed to do just that when Kevin Naiqama posted a try of his own after beating a number of Red and Green defenders to another grubber-kick in-goal, Rankin adding the extras to make it 20-0.
Souths got their first real attacking opportunity around the 25 minute mark, and with the first stanza winding down the Rabbitohs received four consecutive penalties on the Tigers line. The visitors’ defence held strong though, denying the Rabbitohs on a number of occasions.
The Rabbitohs finally got on the board with five minutes remaining in the match when Kirisome Auva’a scored out wide on the back of a towering bomb from Reynolds. After being checked by The Bunker, the try would open Souths’ account for the evening. Reynolds used the upright to guide his conversion attempt in to make the score 20-6 with three minutes left on the clock.
To finish off the half, the Rabbitohs would put on a dazzling display of offloads at speed to travel some 90 metres in one set, but the teams would go to the break with the Tigers leading 20-6.
On the resumption, Souths got on the board straight away in part thanks to another brilliant towering bomb from Reynolds, with David Nofoaluma cleaning it up but losing it on the ground only for Bryson Goodwin to pick up the crumbs to score. Reynolds added the extras to make it a ball-game at 20-12.
Just nine minutes into the second half, the Rabbitohs fightback hit high gear when an attacking opportunity resulted in a quick shift to the left and a first Red and Green try to Dane Nielsen on the far flank. Reynolds kicked a booming touch-line conversion to incredibly make it a two point ball-game at 20-18.
But the Tigers were unperturbed – Luke Brooks stabbing a kick into the in-goal for Rankin to come away with his second try of the evening right under the sticks before adding the extras to make it 26-18.
The try re-energised the Tigers, and with 17 minutes in the match remaining, Nofoaluma streaked into the corner to make it 30-18.
Inside the final seven minutes, Inglis sparked an opportunity that would eventually see the Rabbitohs draw and pass to set up a try for Bryson Goodwin.
But it would be Wests’ night – the visitors bouncing back from their previous week’s loss to take the points by 30-22.
Tigers 30 (Jordan Rankin 2, James Tedesco, Luke Brooks, Kevin Naiqama, David Nofoaluma, tries; Jordan Rankin 3, goals)
Rabbitohs 22 (Kirisome Auva’a, Bryson Goodwin, Dane Nielsen, Bryson Goodwin, tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals)