South Sydney Rabbitohs have taken advantage of a sluggish Wests Tigers outfit on Friday night to post a 32-10 victory at ANZ Stadium in their Round 14 clash.
Missing Origin stars Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods, the visitors never looked comfortable at either end of the field, with errors and poor decisions taking away much of their attacking potency. James Tedesco and Blake Austin posted solid individual tries on the night, but it was all in vain, as the hosts recorded a 22-point win and consolidated their standing as one of the form teams in the competition this season.
Wests Tigers looked to have the first points of the match in the bag when Pat Richards went over out wide in the 10th minute, but the veteran winger spilled the ball in the process of putting it down — letting Souths off the hook.
That allowed the hosts to work the ball downfield, and after a series of repeat sets on the visitors’ line, they soon had the first points of the match when Alex Johnston fell on a fortuitous bounce from a John Sutton kick.
Reynolds converted to give Souths a 6-0 lead after 14 minutes.
After defending gallantly on their line for the majority of the half, Wests Tigers finally cracked in the 29th minute when Kyle Turner burst through off the scrum.
Reynolds again added the extras to push the lead at 12-0, which is how it would remain at the break despite a late attacking flurry from the visitors.
Whatever Mick Potter instructed at the break must have worked, though, with Richards’ short kick-off working perfectly to give Wests Tigers possession again.
From that, Austin darted his way over the line shortly after, to reduce the margin to 12-6 just three minutes into the second half.
The comeback would be short lived, though, as a sharp break from Alex Johnston saw the winger take advantage of some sloppy tackling and race 50m to score under the posts — his second four-pointer of the evening.
Reynolds duly added the extras once again to push Souths back out to a 12-point lead with 33 minutes still remaining in the match.
The mood of the match dulled somewhat as Dene Halatau was knocked unconscious and stretchered from the field in the 57th minute — just moments after making his long-awaited return from a four-month ankle injury.
Tedesco inspired some hope into the visitors with a brilliant solo try in the 61st minute — kicking through off the ground before beating two cover defenders to plant the ball down in the in-goal. Richards’ conversion hit the upright, though, leaving the score at 24-10.
The Club would receive some good news with Halatau seen up and walking around, but it wouldn’t translate to on-field success on the night.
Souths would continue to dominate field position and possession, and would cross for one late try in the 79th minute, with Kyle Turner picking up his second four-pointer in the right corner following some swift handling across the back.
Reynolds converted the try after the siren to push the lead to 32-10.
Final: South Sydney Rabbitohs 32 def. Wests Tigers 10