The Wests Tigers have proven that last week's win was no fluke with a 25-16 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
In a game where high shots and ill-discipline were considered mainstream – with no less than five players being put on report and two being sent to the sin-bin – the Tigers were able to put away five tries on their way to an upset victory in front of 20,061 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs struggled from early on in the contest after Greg Inglis was sidelined with concussion, and if anything were flattered by the final scoreline after scoring two tries in the last five minutes of the match.
After going into the break with a 14-6 advantage, the Tigers proved that they shouldn't be taken lightly in 2014 after winger Pat Richards stretched out his side's lead to 12 points with a try 60 seconds into the second half.
The Tigers were at it again in the 53rd minute following an inch-perfect grubber from halfback Luke Brooks – his partner-in-crime James Tedesco picking up the scraps to put his side further in front with a 24-6 lead. A 62nd-minute Braith Anasta field-goal would follow, ending any possible Rabbitohs comeback.
Adding insult to injury, the Rabbitohs' Luke Burgess was sin-binned in the 73rd minute – the referee having no choice following the several high shots that came before it – while Issac Luke would come off with two minutes to play with an apparent shoulder injury. Joel Reddy added two consolation tries in his first game for the Rabbitohs in what was otherwise a disappointing night for Bunnies fans.
It wasn't all roses to begin with though for the Tigers. After conceding a penalty within the first two minutes of the game, the Tigers defence was cut open two minutes later. A brilliant passage of play from fill-in five-eighth John Sutton led to an unlikely Ben Lowe try for a 6-0 lead.
Following the first try of the game, Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis fell victim to a trademark Pat Richards high kick-off – with a Tim Simona tackle knocking out Inglis and seeing Simona penalised and placed on report.
Tigers front-rower Keith Galloway – in his first game back in the starting 13 – let one go begging soon after, dropping the ball over the try-line. After an awkward tackle on counterpart George Burgess, Galloway's front-row partner Aaron Woods fell victim to big brother Sam minutes later – instigating a melee that should have seen the older Burgess in the sin-bin.
Following a string of errors and penalties from the Rabbitohs, young gun halfback Luke Brooks assisted in getting one back for the Tigers – a 13th minute try to back-rower Bodene Thompson punctuating the Rabbitohs early ill-discipline. The Tigers hit the lead for the first time in the game following a controversial Simona try with 10 minutes left in the half.
With Pat Richards unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty try following a high shot from Ben Lowe – the winger getting concussed while in the process of scoring – the Tigers would prove they're not here to make up the numbers. Within seconds, Simona crossed for his second try of the evening for an eight point halftime lead.
A brain-explosion from bench forward James Gavet will be a concern sure to be dealt with by the Match Review Committee during the week. Gavet was placed on report after kneeing George Burgess in the head while in the process of tackling the England international. Bryson Goodwin will also face a nervous wait after his high shot on Tedesco late in the game.
After the match Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter expressed his pleasure with the dominant scoreline despite his side conceding two late tries.
"We did some real good things and we've got some things to work on and late in the game was a little bit disappointing. It got nasty at times. Letting them in for two soft tries at the back end was probably what we didn’t want," he said.
"I thought that our defence was very good. I thought that we met them on the advantage line. I thought we did very, very well. I think our forwards outplayed their forwards tonight and they did a great job."
Wests Tigers 25 (Simona 2, Richards, Thompson, Tedesco tries; Richards 2 goals, Anasta Field Goal) South Sydney Rabbitohs 16 (Reddy 2, Lowe tries; Reynolds 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 20,061.