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Rabbitohs hold on to deny Wests Tigers comeback

A late flurry from Wests Tigers was not enough to down the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night, as Wayne Bennett's side held on for a tight 18-10 victory in wet conditions at Bankwest Stadium.

Down 18-0, Wests Tigers looked down and out before the inclusion of Benji Marshall off the bench sparked a late rally that threatened to turn in to a stunning upset.

 

After a fiery finish to last week's close loss to the Penrith Panthers, it was a similarly tough start to the game with Josh Reynolds put on report for a dangerous kick on Campbell Graham, who tried to retrieve the ball from an offside position.

Adam Reynolds would swiftly add two points from a penalty goal to give the Rabbitohs an early 2-0 advantage after just eight minutes.

Despite South Sydney on the better end of a 5-0 penalty count and four set restarts to none for the entirety of the first half, courageous and stirring defence from the Wests Tigers would restrict the visitors on a number of occasions.

Adam Doueihi would produce a stunning try-saver to deny the Rabbitohs halfback after 20 minutes, but the weight of possession and penalties would eventually take its toll as Dane Gagai crossed for a first half double to take the lead to 10-0.

Two rare missed conversions from Reynolds would keep the visitors in the contest, however, with Maguire's side doing well to just trail by ten at the break.

Needing to start fast in the second half, it was a case of more errors and ill-discipline that hamstrung Wests Tigers — leading to another South Sydney try as James Roberts showed too much speed to score down the right flank.

Surprisingly, Reynolds would again push his conversion attempt across the face of goal, leaving the scoreline at 14-0 in favour of the Rabbitohs.

South Sydney would continue to cause havoc down the right edge, and Gagai would continue to reap the rewards as a result — crossing for his first hat-trick at club level to extend the home side's lead to three converted tries.

The injection of Marshall for his first game since Round 5 would prove a positive one for Wests Tigers, with the Kiwi veteran playmaker sending Luke Garner through a hole to put Wests Tigers on the attack, before Harry Grant showed his craftiness around the ruck to send Josh Aloiai burrowing over the line.

Reece Hoffman would make it two tries in the space of five minutes for the visitors to keep Maguire's side in the contest, as penalties and possession helped to drag Wests Tigers back in to the fight down 18-10.

Michael Chee Kam looked to have made it a one score game with less than five minutes remaining but was denied by the Bunker — leaving the Rabbitohs to hold on for a slender eight-point win to leapfrog them in to the top eight.

Wests Tigers will look to bounce back when they return to Leichhardt Oval for the first time since the competition returned as they take on the Brisbane Broncos in Friday night footy.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Gagai 3, Roberts tries; Reynolds 1/5 goals) def. Wests Tigers 10 (Aloiai, Hoffman tries; Mbye 1/2 goals) at Bankwest Stadium