Last time Wests Tigers met the South Sydney Rabbitohs, it was on the back of a six-game losing streak and a crushing defeat to the Raiders the weekend before.
The match would in a much-needed win for Wests Tigers, as they showed great character and determination to emerge with a 30-22 victory over their more-fancied opponents.
And while Wests Tigers don’t come in to this Friday’s reverse fixture looking to end a similar losing streak, there is a similar desperation in the air this time around as the home side look to rectify last Sunday’s defeat and stay in touch with the top eight.
So what did we learn that night about how to defeat the South Sydney Rabbitohs? Take a look at the highlights from that night in the video above and the lessons we learned below.
Lesson #1 — Importance of a bright start
It’s no great secret that starting fast is an important part of rugby league, but that was most evident when these two sides clashed in April. After just 19 minutes of play, Wests Tigers had already run in four tries to nil and led by 20 points — a lead that simply couldn’t be run down in the second half despite Souths’ best efforts as they hold on for a 30-22 win.
Contrast that then to the way in which both South Sydney and Wests Tigers began last weekend. Jason Taylor’s men trailed 12-0 to the Roosters after 12 minutes (going down 32-18 in the end) while South Sydney trailed the Titans 18-0 shortly after half-time, going down 29-28 in Golden Point. Neither had the best of starts, and neither were able to record a victory as a result — something that Taylor and Michael Maguire will no doubt mention this week.
Lesson #2 — Tough caries from outside backs
When these two sides met in April, Wests Tigers were dealt a cruel blow when fullback James Tedesco was unable to return in the second half with a shoulder injury. South Sydney would mount plenty of pressure in the second half, forcing Wests Tigers to work the ball out from their own end time and time again, but it was the tough carries from the outside backs that proved the difference in the end. David Nofoaluma (226 metres from 20 carries), Jordan Rankin (169 metres from 15 carries) and Tim Simona (152 metres from 14 carries) led the way in that area for Wests Tigers, and against a big South Sydney pack, the outside backs’ carries will surely prove key again on Friday.
Lesson #3 — Composure in the second half
Leading 20-6 at half-time but missing players due to injury, Wests Tigers were aware that South Sydney would come back at them in the second half — which they would. However, it was the composure of the visitors that got them home in the end, with an impressive 16/17 (94.1%) completion rate in the second half, while only giving away one penalty.
The same couldn’t be said for the way Wests Tigers finished last week’s game against the Roosters — completing 13/19 at 68.4% as they chased points in the rain — and the composure shown by Taylor’s side, and particularly in the kicking game, could well be the difference down the stretch against the Rabbitohs this Friday night.