It's time to dissect that heart-in-mouth game but in the end the Rabbitohs got the win!
Match: Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs
Round 18 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
SOUTHS LOVE THE RIGHT; TIGERS LOVE THE LEFT
They say match ups make fights and all of the action was down the near touchline for both sides.
The last time the two met back in round nine the Rabbitohs scored all of their four tries on the right edge (Three to Gagai, one to Roberts). Souths picked up where they left off when Dane Gagai crossed early on the right wing and then Campbell Graham picked up his second while filling in for Gagai during his sin bin stint.
Graham secures his second as Souths make most of extra man
The Tigers on the other hand picked out vulnerabilities with the Rabbitohs right edge defence who found themselves caught way in-field on a number of occasions. They were left off the hook early in the second half when a mis-directed pass resulted in a knock-on but then winger Asu Kepaoa made no mistake with his second attempt, which reduced the Rabbitohs’ lead to just two points with 12 minutes remaining.
REDUCING THE ERRORS. *Pass mark?
It doesn’t take a statistician to know that last weekend the Rabbitohs completions in the second half were well down (66%) and as Wayne pointed out, if you hold the ball you usually win.
The Rabbitohs were disciplined with ball-in-hand this week and completed in the mid-70% range. Whenever they complete over 80% they almost always win. Fact.
While the Tigers are averaging 80% completion rate this year, they were down to 72% tonight. Souths average 32 points over the last month.
The Rabbitohs picked up their 13th intercept for the season (first in the league) after Gagai showed extreme skill to pick up a loose pass at his bootlaces and run the best part of 60 metres before being tracked down.
While the scoreline did not change directly from that play, this was a pivotal moment in the game as Alex Twal was sent to the sin bin due to a professional foul and another incident moments later resulted in 12 against 11.
Twal sent to sin bin for professional foul
12 vs 11
There was a period early in the second half when the Rabbitohs had 12 players to the Tigers’ 11.
Firstly Alex Twal was sin-binned for a professional foul after Dane Gagai made a break, then both Gagai and Luke Brooks threw punches which resulted in some time on the sideline as well.
Brooks and Gagai sent to sin bin as punches thrown
During this period, opportunities opened up due to fatigue and also because of the added space. In the last minute of Twal being due to return, Campbell Graham crossed for his double on a slick backline play bumping Souths out to past two-converted tries.
However the Tigers responded shortly after during this period, when Brooks crossed as soon as he re-entered the field of play.
BATTLE OF THE HIGH-FLYERS
It was an attacking match up for the ages when David Nofoaluma and Alex Johnston lined up against each on the same edge. Both are tryscoring freaks who are top of the leaderboard but it was their try assists that stood out tonight.
AJ made a line break then set up Campbell Graham perfectly for his first try of the game by drawing-and-passing the fullback, while David Nofoaluma put in a clever grubber kick on last tackle to find Luke Brooks for a four-pointer.
Both got through a stack of work as well. Check out their head-to head!