Wests Tigers have suffered a heartbreaking 18-14 loss to South Sydney at Stadium Australia after Rabbitohs halfback Tom Burgess scored a try in golden point.
In one of the most bizarre finishes in recent memory, there was much confusion surrounding the final try of the game after the referee initially deemed Burgess had lost the ball over the line, letting Luke Brooks run 80 metres to cross up the other end of the field.
Wests Tigers players thought they had secured the victory, however on replay, the Bunker deemed Burgess had grounded the ball for a South Sydney victory.
Wests Tigers had held an eight-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, however the Rabbitohs struck back through a Dane Gagai try before Adam Reynolds landed a two-point field goal to level the scores to send the game beyond the 80 minutes.
Although the away side couldn’t leave with two competition points, there were a number of encouraging signs for Michael Maguire’s men, with halves Adam Doueihi and Brooks combining well.
Young gun hooker Jake Simpkin was impressive in his debut game as he provided plenty of spark from dummy-half and put in a mountain of work in defence as he made a staggering 58 tackles in a 85-minute performance.
The loss was compounded with Asu Kepaoa coming from the field in the second half with a leg injury.
There was plenty of feeling and lots of niggle at Stadium Australia with a number of players finding themselves on report and several scuffled throughout the evening.
The first half was tense as both sides scored one try each in the opening 40 minutes.
After a disappointing defensive effort against North Queensland last Sunday, Wests Tigers were determined for a strong start this time around and they controlled the opening stages of the game.
Adam Doueihi’s delicate short-kicking game was on show early on as he forced three consecutive line-dropouts inside the opening 15 minutes, however the Rabbitohs were able to sustain the pressure and won the ball back as Latrell Mitchell went short on the third dropout.
The Rabbitohs opened the scoring through Cameron Murray after 24 minutes when the State of Origin representative burst through a gaping hole to score.
On the ensuing set, tempers flared between both sides as Zane Musgrove found himself on report for a high tackle.
The Rabbitohs thought they had extended their lead to 10 when Adam Johnston planted the ball down in the left corner, however the Bunker intervened to deem the winger had placed his hand on the touchline.
Wests Tigers took full advantage of the decision as they went up the other end to level the game. Recruit Daine Laurie bagged his third in three weeks after Luciano Leilua sent David Nofoaluma down the left wing, who placed a kick towards Laurie to score.
Mitchell was placed on report was late contact on Nofoaluma in the lead-up to the try.
Wests Tigers were first to score after the break to gain a 12-6 advantage — their first lead in three weeks — when Doueihi sent Luke Garner through a hole for his second try in as many weeks.
When the away side were awarded a penalty right in front in front of the posts for a late tackle, it was an easy decision to take two points to extend the lead to eight points with a quarter of the match remaining.
The Rabbitohs, however, closed the gap to just two points Dane Gagai scored following a break from mid-field.
Wests Tigers will turn their attention to next week's Anzac Day clash against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Bankwest Stadium.