The Late Mail: New Zealand v Tonga
69 mins ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
The Tigers played solid footy to lead 18-12 at halftime, but were no match for an invigorated Souths side, who piled on 32 points in the final 35 minutes of the game to storm home with a romping victory.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Asu Kepaoa cleanly intercepted a pass from Lachlan Ilias and raced 90 metres to score. Luke Brooks converted.
Just a few mnutes later, the Tigers went on another attacking raid, ending with Jackson Hastings kicking to the left where Brent Naden tapped the ball back perfectly to Daine Laurie, who then fired a pass to Ken Maumalo and the winger scored in the left corner. Brooks failed to convert.
A penalty against Souths in the 14th minute saw Brooks slot a penalty goal.
In the 23rd minute Souths finally got on the board with some nice passing in the face of Tigers defenders who rushed up early. This time Alex Johnston received a pass while unmarked and he scored in the corner. Kodi Nikorima converted.
In the 34th minute, Siliva Havili took a crash ball, burrowed down and barged over the line for a powerful try. Nikorima added the extras to level the scores.
The Tigers reclaimed the lead just before halftime when Laurie sent a beautiful cut-out ball to Maumalo who scored his second try in the corner. Brooks converted from the sideline and at the break, the Tigers lead 18-12.
Souths were immediately more energised upon returning to the field and in the 45th minute they turned their early second-half pressure into points when Johnston bagged his second try for the night in the corner. Nikorima converted to level the scores again.
5 minutes later Campbell Graham dived over from dummy half to score. Nikorima failed to convert from out wide.
In the 59th minute, Graham took on the Tigers line and while standing in a tackle in the Tigers ingoal, he offloaded to the unmarked Johnston who bagged his third try, which brought up his 147th for Souths, taking him past the club record of 146 previously held by Nathan Merritt. Nikorima again could not add the extras from out wide.
From this point in the game the Bunnies completely took over and never let the Tigers back in.
A rushed grubber towards the posts by Ilias in the 65th minute ricocheted off a Tigers defender. Luciano Leilua tried to pick the ball up on the run but misses it completely. Cody Walker cleaned up with no one around and scored under the posts. Blake Taaffe converted from in front.
Walked snared his second try in the 72nd minute which Taaffe also converted and then, with just under 2 minutes left in the game, Jaxson Paulo cleanly intercepted a Hastings long ball and raced 80 metres to score. Taaffe again added the extras.
Souths looked like they very nearly scored again after the siren sounded but a knock on in the lead up denied them a chance to have a crack at bringing up the 50.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 44 - Wests Tigers 18
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
Halftime Score: South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 Wests Tigers 18
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Campbell Graham
2 points - Hame Sele
1 points - Siliva Havili
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (44)
Tries: Alex Johnston (3), Siliva Havili, Campbell Graham, Cody Walker (2), Jaxson Paulo
Conversions: Kodi Nikorima (3/5), Blake Taaffe (3/3)
WESTS TIGERS (18)
Tries: Asu Kepaoa, Ken Maumalo (2)
Conversions: Luke Brooks (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Luke Brooks (1/1)