The Rabbitohs were defeated in heartbreaking fashion, as Luke Brooks’ late field-goal secured a 23-22 win for the Tigers on Saturday night at CommBank Stadium. Here are some of the key takeaways from the game.
Match: Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs
Round 7 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Surviving a tough start
When Taane Milne was sent to the sin-bin prior to kick-off, the momentum of the game was firmly in the Tigers corner, after opening the scoring on the previous play.
Milne sent to the bin
With three set restarts, Hame Sele forced to come off with a HIA, a goal line dropout and only 29% possession of the ball in the opening ten minutes, being reduced to 12 men was only added misery to the Rabbitohs.
However, Souths completely swung the momentum of the game, managing to get ahead with two brilliant tries in the ten-minute period with 12 players.
Walker hits back for the Bunnies
Cody Walker found his way over, shortly before Alex Johnston completed a trademark try on the wing.
Johnston excelled on the wing in this period, with a try assist and a try for himself, without his centre.
The wingers performance spurred on his teammates, as the Rabbitohs managed to force the Tigers on the backfoot for the first time in the contest.
It was a courageous performance from the visitors, regardless of a low set completion rate, the Rabbitohs maintained a strong foot in the contest and held out the Tigers barrage of goal line attacks.
Defensively, Souths were forced into their own half on several occasions and looked promising in defusing the dangerous attacks by the Tigers.
Although the scoreboard had them down by two-points at the break, the Rabbitohs didn’t let the errors and penalties affect their attitude and performance, as they dug deep on both sides of the field to give themselves the best chance of turning around a disappointing first-half.
Johnston and Graham shine in the backline
Although the result may not have gone their way, Alex Johnston and Campbell Graham excelled going forward for the Rabbitohs.
Mansour rewarded for work in the middle
Johnston’s stellar first half performance was capped off by an incredible performance with the ball in hand. Giving the Rabbitohs a try, a try and line break assist, a line break, two tackle breaks and a massive 104 run metres. The winger also got the Rabbitohs out of danger with two bomb defusals, tallying up at 43 post-kick metres.
The Rabbitohs effort to stay in the game in the first half was largely in part due to Johnston’s outstanding effort and willingness to lift his teammates, even being a man down on his side of the field.
His performance was matched by another monster outing from Campbell Graham, his work on both sides of the field didn’t go unnoticed, as he produced a stellar second-half.
Although he didn’t bag himself a four-pointer, Graham was courageous going forward with 176 run-metres, second to only Keaon Koloamatangi with 205. Graham notched 59 post-contact metres, along with two tackle breaks from just three hit-ups, adding another crucial piece in the Rabbitohs attack on the night.
In defence, Graham was set a massive task of holding off a barrage of left-side attacks from the Tigers, with constant pressure headed his way he stood tall with 22 tackles.
It was a good day for all the backs going forward, with all five players coming incredibly close or going well over the 100 metre mark in their runs.
Forward pack getting through a mountain of work
The Tigers enjoyed a few periods of domination going forward throughout the game, forcing the Rabbitohs onto the backfoot early-on and giving themselves a massive head start going the other way.
Koloamatangi scores to ensure a grandstand finish
Although it took a while for the forwards to begin to work their magic, the resistance shown in the middle of the field has to be commended.
Damien Cook and Cameron Murray led the way in the middle, with 63 and 66 tackles made from the pair respectively. The remainder of the pack all notched above 30 tackles with good efficiency.
After the tough start on defence, Koloamatangi lifted his side in attack and set an impressive game-high 205 run metres, with an even more notable 86 post-contact metres.
Koloamatangi capped off his stellar night with a game-levelling try and continued in his pursuit for a win on the other side of the field. With five tackle breaks and a line break to his name, the backrower was one of the stars of the night and should hold his head high in defeat.
Elsewhere in the pack, all but two forwards managed to get above 100 run metres, an incredible effort considering the work that had to be done on defence.
With just 43% of the ball throughout the game, the forwards made their chances count and were critical in the Rabbitohs comebacks throughout the night.
Completion rate low due to errors and penalties
It was a difficult night for the Rabbitohs, with errors and penalties plaguing an otherwise overall solid performance going forward.
With 25 sets completed from 36 attempts, the Rabbitohs were frustrated as decisions continued to go against their way and the ball just wasn’t sticking with a few costly errors.
Heading into the halftime break, the Rabbitohs led the Tigers with five more set restarts and four additional penalties. Souths ended the game with 16 errors as opposed to the Tigers three, they also conceded 2 extra penalties and set restarts, which began to level out in the second-half.
The Rabbitohs slowly became depleted throughout the game, with HIA’s and injuries forcing them to just one substitute in the final ten minutes, this along with the strong start from the Tigers left them fatigued in defence.
The Rabbitohs were forced to play some of the forwards for almost the entirety of the game, leading to the Tigers finding a winner in the late seconds. Although there was a fighting effort all the way until the final seconds, without the injuries and concussions on another day the result may of swung in favour of the Rabbitohs.