The South Sydney Rabbitohs have recorded their fourth win on the trot following a comprehensive 32-10 victory over the Tigers.
Fresh from a trip to Perth and a six-day turnaround, South Sydney were able to send the majority of the 20,000-strong crowd home happy with a five-tries-to-one victory.
Rabbitohs rookies Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner stamped their authority on the game after scoring sensational doubles. The 19-year-old Johnston especially proving again that he is something special after extending his miraculous run in the NRL to a solid seven tries from five games.
For the first time this year all four Burgess brothers stepped out for the Rabbitohs in the one game in what also proved to be an unhappy night for Tigers duo Adam Blair (four penalties) and Chris Lawrence (four errors).
The game kicked off with the momentum well in the Tigers’ favour and although they went close through Pat Richards twice the Rabbitohs managed to post first points through rookie winger Johnston in the 13th minute.
With luck on their side the try came from a John Sutton bomb which was barely contested, followed by a favourable bounce to hooker Issac Luke which saw him generously pass it to Johnston as the winger's return to first-grade from a quad strain started off in a pleasant fashion.
With penalties compounding the Tigers’ woes, Rabbitohs centre Kirisome Auva'a went agonisingly close to extending his team's lead in the 24th minute, and was denied again three minutes later after some quality Tigers defence, though lock Adam Blair was placed on report for a late shot on Luke.
The Tigers couldn't help but make it hard for themselves as centre Chris Lawrence was barrelled over the sideline in the following set. From there the Rabbitohs finally made the Tigers pay, with Souths crossing for their second try of the evening in the 29th minute. A deft pass from Sutton to a hole-running Turner extended the Bunnies’ lead to 12.
There was a sense of déjà vu when Tim Simona decided to have a go at getting tackled over the sideline with four minutes remaining in the half. Getting pummelled on their try-line, a Rabbitohs error proved to be the Tigers’ saving grace, the score remaining 12-nil at halftime.
A short kick-off from Richards and some phenomenal defence put Wests right back in the game to kick off proceedings in the second-half. Interchange utility Blake Austin made the most of his opportunities in the unfamiliar position of hooker as the usual five-eighth ducked over from dummy-half to close the gap to 12-6 in the 43rd minute.
Austin turned hero to villain just minutes later after missing a crucial tackle on Johnston in the 45th minute. The missed tackle allowed the winger, scooting from dummy-half, to produce a scintillating half-field run to score his second try of the evening to again push his side’s advantage to 12.
The Tigers’ turnstiles opened up again in the 53rd minute as the Rabbitohs, from a crisp Sam Burgess offload, crossed for their fourth try of the night thanks to club legend Nathan Merritt who scored his 154th career try and pushed out the Bunnies’ lead to an almost untouchable 24-6 score-line.
An average kick from the Tigers still proved fruitful in the 61st minute. From the kick, centre Simona leaped and batted it backwards to the ground. A flying James Tedesco grabbed the opportunity with two hands and a lucky bounce from the fullback's kick to the in-goal saw him cross for his sixth try of the year in the 61st minute.
An Adam Reynolds conversation with seven minutes remaining and Turner's second try of the night in the dying stages sealed a 22-point win for the Rabbitohs.
Forwards Joe Picker and Dene Halatau were the major injury concerns to come from the game after both suffering serious concussions, while Kirisome Auva'a and George Burgess left proceedings in the final 15 minutes with leg injuries.
Rabbitohs 32 (Johnston 2, Turner 2, Merritt Tries; Reynolds 6 Goals) defeated Wests Tigers 10 (Austin, Tedesco Tries; Richards Goal) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 20,721.