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Black eye of the Tiger: Brooks' fighting spirit lifts teammates

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire had no criticism of Luke Brooks's punch on Souths winger Dane Gagai, despite the play landing the No.7 in the sin bin for 10 minutes and facing a possible ban for striking.

Genuine punches have been rarer than contested scrums in recent years but Brooks's haymaker collected Gagai flush and that plus the ensuing all-in brawl seemed to spark the Tigers and rattle the Rabbitohs, who only just hung on to a 26-24 win at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday night.

"They got one each, kept it square (with Gagai also sin binned)," Maguire shrugged.

"That's one of those ones, there was a bit of heat there and it's part of what made the game.

"I thought it (the determination) was there beforehand but it certainly sparked something in the boys and got them going."

Souths coach Wayne Bennett also had no issues with the melee, questioning whether it even deserved to be called a "fight".

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs

"It didn't hurt anybody. It was a scuffle," Bennett said.

"The referee handled it well, I've got no problems. Players all know the rules there, I don't have any criticism."

Outside of the fisticuffs, Maguire praised the fight in his team as a whole.

"We gave away too much possession at the start but the effort, I was really proud of the way the boys looked after each other out there," he said.

"You could really see the determination that's been building in the team throughout the season. It came alive in the second half and the boys were really determined to get that win.

Brooks and Gagai sent to sin bin as punches thrown

"Unfortunately sometimes you don't get what you deserve but the effort and the way they went about it, I was very proud.

"There's a lot of belief in the team, I've seen that.

"The second half was one of our better ones, the way we stuck at what we planned to do and stuck to the process and put the opposition under pressure.

"We just made it hard for ourselves in the first half, probably a couple of cheap ones there and put ourselves under pressure having to chase."

Departing five-eighth Benji Marshall was exceptional in the comeback.

Sublime read and pass from Marshall has Talau scoring

"He tried really hard, he actually hurt his ankle in the first half and was in a bit of pain there but he stayed out there, put that to the side and worked really hard for his teammates," Maguire said.

"He was really strong along with Brooksy and the whole team, they really had a crack tonight."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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