The South Sydney Rabbitohs have claimed two-points in a deserving 28-8 victory over the Wests Tigers in front of a crowd of 12,213 tonight (Friday) at ANZ Stadium.
Michael Maguire made some late changes to the line-up moving Cody Walker to fullback and shifting Alex Johnston to the side to take Braidon Burns position. Bryson Goodwin pushed into the centres while Aaron Gray returned from injury into the winger spot. Robbie Farah came on to start the match moving Damien Cook to the bench. Other changes saw John Sutton move to five-eighth and Robbie Rochow make his first start for the Rabbitohs.
The night marked the NRL Indigenous Round with Crichton, Walker and Reynolds all wearing special boots designed by family and friends with Indigenous art.
Donning their Indigenous jerseys, momentum was evident in both teams, with possession even within the first 10 minutes. But the Rabbitohs were the first to dominate the field when Cody Walker made a line break and spun the ball off to Johnston on the side to score the first try of the night. Reynolds couldn’t add the extras but Maguire’s team held a four point lead.
As the weather conditions started to dampen, Tigers prop Ava Seumanufagai was sent to the sin bin in the 18th minute for throwing a punch at Farah. As the clock slowly ticked away, the Tigers, with four points down and one man short, made the choice to take a shot at goal gaining themselves a successful two points through a penalty kick by Mitchell Moses.
But the Rabbitohs wouldn’t let the opportunity slip by and minutes later Farah sent a slick pass off to Sam Burgess who slammed the ball down for the second try of the evening. Reynolds made up for his previous conversion attempt, kicking the ball straight through the uprights and the Rabbitohs led 10 points to two.
The aggression amped up and a big hit by Anthony Cherrington saw him hit the sheds for a concussion test. Tyrell Fuimaono came on as his replacement, taking the field for his first NRL cap.
The Tigers tested our defence before the half time siren but the Rabbitohs were too good to catch. With seconds left on the clock for the first half, a quick thinking pass by Reynolds landed in the running line of Crichton who sprinted 30 metres to find the try line. Wearing the boots designed by his Yolngu family, the try sure would be a special one for the Rabbitohs forward. His try was made sweeter with a successful conversion by Reynolds and the Rabbitohs led 16 points to two.
The team looked good running into the sheds after the first half showing smart kicking placement and powerful runs. Sam Burgess ran 114 metres and recorded a high 19 tackles while Gray added five tackle breaks to the team’s total of 25.
The Tigers came out strong in the second half and an unlucky knock on by Farah after an attempt to pick up a Luke Brooks grubber saw Elijah Taylor jump on the loose ball and score the home team’s first four-pointer. Moses conversion was successful but the Rabbitohs kept a lead 16 points to eight.
But the Rabbitohs would repeat their first try with Walker sending the ball far out wide to Johnston on the left who went over for his double. Reynolds would again convert and the Rabbitohs extended their lead 22 points to eight.
But the doubles wouldn’t stop there. Farah slotted the ball into the diagonal running line of Sam Burgess who picked up his second try for the night. Reynolds made no mistake and added an extra two points to bring the team up to 28 points.
Johnston got close to a hat-trick but couldn't get the ball to the ground in his third time over the line. The remainder of the game saw both teams fight to add extra points to the board but the night would finish up with a well-deserved 28 to eight point victory to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Alex Johnston 2, Sam Burgess 2, Angus Crichton tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals)
Wests Tigers 8 (Elijah Taylor try; Mitchell Moses 2 goals)
The Rabbitohs will be wearing their Indigenous jersey in Round 17 against the Penrith Panthers.