The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Although this match was between two sides not widely tipped to make a dent in September, this match was an exciting, see-sawing affair and the lead changed hands several times throughout the match with the Rabbitoh's emerging victorious 32-22 over the Wests Tigers and record their first victory since round 18 last year.
The Tigers peppered Souths line for much of the last ten minutes of the match but an combination of poor kicks from Michael Buettner and last gasp Rabbitoh's defence allowed Nathan Merritt to race away with two minutes on the clock and score an 80 metre try to put the result beyond doubt.
Souths backrower Justin Smith finished the game with a personal haul of 20 points through two tries and six goals from six attempts with the boot.
Inspirational for Souths was captain Bryan Fletcher who played the game with a lower back problem but he was there in the end to finish the game and celebrate a mighty win for the embattled Rabbitohs.
Wests Tigers will be disappointed they didn?t come away from Aussie Stadium with the two points but they should not be ashamed of their effort, only disappointed in their execution at crucial times throughout the match.
Tomorrow sees George Piggins end his 14 year tenure as Souths chairman with Nick Pappas taking the reigns and it represents a new era for the myrtle and green and what better way to start than a victory over the Tigers. A fitting way for George Piggins to end his reign as chairman, as a winner.
Leagueunlimited player of the year:
Paul Stringer - 3 points Justin Smith - 2 points Corey Pearson - 1 point
Scorers: Rabbitohs Tries: Stringer, Smtih x 2, Carney, Merritt Goals: Smith 6/6 Tigers Tries: Buettner, Fitzhenry, Manu, Pearson Goals: Caine 3/5
By the clock: 4th min: PENALTY GOAL - Tigers. Caine slots an easy shot ten metres out, just off centre. Tigers 2-0.
7th min: TRY - Tigers. Michael Buettner scores a great try under the sticks to extend the Tigers lead and give Souths real cause for concren. Conversion successful. Tigers 8-0.
14th min: PENALTY GOAL - Souths. Justin Smtih converts right in front to get the Bunnies on the board. Tigers 8-2.
25th min: TRY - Souths. Paul Stringer barges over the top of opposite number Corey Pearson to get his first try of the season. Conversion successful. 8 all.
30th min: TRY - Tigers. Great kick in behind the line by the new halfback Adam Tippet sees Daniel Fitzhenry beat Owen Craigie to the ball for a great try. Conversion unsuccessful. Tigers 12-8.
37th min: TRY - Souths. Justin Smith runs on to a well timed Fletcher pass to hit and spin out of the defence to score adjacent to the posts. Conversion successful. Souths 14-12.
45th min: TRY - Souths. Brett Carney scoops up the ball in one hand and races for the corner to just get the ball over the line for a sensational Souths try. Touchline conversion successful. Souths 20-12.
49th min: TRY - Tigers. A clever Buettner chip sees Willie Manu score right on the touchline to immediately hit back and get the Tigers back into the game. Conversion unsuccessful. Souths 20-16.
53rd min: TRY - Tigers. Corey Pearson scores after a great break from Michael Buettner from 30 metres out with Pearson in support. Conversion successful. Tigers 22-20.
57th min: TRY - Souths. The see sawing battle continues as Justin Smith gets a double after hitting a Jamie Russo ball at full pace and Smith was impossible to stop. Conversion successful. Souths 26-22.
78th min: TRY - Souths. Nathan Merritt scoots away to score a 90 metre try and Souths have recorded their first victory for season 2003 in a hard fought match. Conversion successful. Souths 32-22.