Brendan Wood reviews the South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-10 win over the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium. Here’s how the game went:
|8th||Penalty Goal – Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 2-0|
|33rd||Try – Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 6-0|
|38th||Try – Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 10-0|
|47th||Try – James Roberts (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 14-0|
|57th||Try – Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 18-0|
|64th||Try – Josh Aloiai (Tigers)||Rabbitohs 18-6|
|69th||Try – Reece Hoffman (Tigers)||Rabbitohs 18-10|
There was a fiery start to the game in just the sixth minute. Josh Reynolds sparked a melee when he kicked at a loose ball and accidentally connected with Campbell Graham’s head. Reynolds was put on report and Graham went off with a HIA. Not long after this the Rabbitohs opened the scoring, opting to take the two points after a Tigers penalty right in front.
The following 25 minutes were a defensive arm-wrestle as both teams tried to gain the ascendancy. Neither side executing their attack well enough to make an impact on the scoreboard. The Rabbitohs had the better of the field position but couldn’t crack the Tigers stout defence. Adam Reynolds went close when he took on the Tigers line and made a break, only to be taken into touch one metre short of the goal-line by Adam Doueihi.
However, the weight of possession against the Tigers came back to bite them and eventually the Rabbitohs snagged the first try of the game through Dane Gagai. Five minutes later, the Tigers made an error coming out of their own end and the Rabbitohs had their second try. Latrell Mitchell found an unmarked Dane Gagai who scored another try in the corner. The Tigers challenged a knock-on in the shadows of halftime in the hopes of being awarded a penalty, but the challenge was unsuccessful. The Rabbitohs holding onto a 10 point lead at the break.
The Rabbitohs hit the ground running in the second half when James Roberts made the most of an overlap, using his speed to race down the sideline and score his first try of the year. As they did in the first half, the Tigers made an error coming out of their own end which led to another Rabbitohs try. The edge defence of the Tigers was exposed again as Dane Gagai scored his third try of the night a few tackles later.
Despite being starved of the attacking opportunities the Tigers eventually found themselves in good field position off the back of some Rabbitohs penalties. They finally got their first points when Harry Grant setup Josh Aloiai to barge over close to the line. Five minutes later the Tigers again found themselves the beneficiaries of a penalty and six again call to help them down the field. Off the back of this they got their second try, when young Reece Hoffman scored on debut to cut the lead back to eight points.
The Tigers rode a wave of momentum down the field again and looked to have scored through Michael Chee-Kam. The video referee found a knock-on from David Nofoaluma in the lead up to deny the Tigers comeback attempt. The Rabbitohs maintained possession of the ball in the final minutes to snuff out a brave fightback from the Tigers, holding on to record an 18-10 victory.
Dane Gagai’s first NRL hat-trick was the highlight of the Rabbitohs win. It’s surprising Gagai has failed to score a hat-trick so far in his NRL career when he has been such a prolific try scorer for Queensland at Origin level. There were plenty of opportunities for Gagai to score in this game playing opposite young Tigers winger Reece Hoffman on debut. The edge defence of the Tigers had a rough night which exposed Hoffman, and Gagai used his finishing ability to rack up the tries. The Rabbitohs attack was lethal down that side of the field as even James Roberts burned the Tigers with his speed to get his first try since round 14 last year.
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. Campbell Graham 4. James Roberts 5. Alex Johnston 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray Bench: 15. Bayley Sironen 16. Patrick Mago 17. Hame Sele 18. Mark Nicholls.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 4. Moses Mbye 17. Chris Lawrence 19. Reece Hoffman 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Oliver Clark 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Matt Eisenhuth Bench: 3. Michael Chee-Kam 14. Elijah Taylor 15. Thomas Mikaele 18. Benji Marshall.