In a battle between eighth and ninth, the South Sydney Rabbitohs face Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium, with the victor sitting a little more comfortably in the top-eight.
After a tough opening few minutes, everything kicked off after six minutes as Josh Reynolds went to kick a loose ball on the floor but connected with the face of Campbell Graham.
This caused players from both sides to charge in, with Latrell Mitchell taking exception the most, connecting with Reynolds with a swinging arm.
Reynolds remained on the field as both the referee and other officials deemed the action accidental as the ball was on the floor, the swinging arm by Mitchell was also missed by the officials.
With the result of the match more important than the performance in such a tight game, Souths decided to open the scoring with a penalty goal after Josh Aloiai was penalised for a ball strip.
Souths were certainly on top in the territory battle, but they couldn’t do enough to break through the Tigers defence.
That was until the 25th minute when Adam Reynolds skipped to the outside of Luke Brooks and then outpaced the Tigers defence. The desperate tackle by the former Rabiitoh, Adam Doueihi didn’t look to be enough, as Reynolds twisted through and dotted down.
However, the tackle from Doueihi was a brilliant one as the full-back did enough to pull the half-backs legs over the touchline before grounding.
With eight minutes to go until the break, the pressure that Souths had been piling on the Tigers finally paid off, as Reynolds and Cody Walker combined on the right-hand edge to put Dane Gagai over in the corner.
Just minutes later, it was Latrell Mitchell who exposed a dogged left-sided defence of Tigers, as he shrugged off Moses Mbye and pushed a flat pass out to Gagai for his second of the night.
After the Rabbitohs were offside following a knock-on, the Tigers had the chance to attack with a high-bomb, but the ball wasn’t claimed by a player from either side.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 10-0 Wests Tigers
The second half started in exactly the same fashion as the first ended.
This time, instead of Dane Gagai scoring, his run down the right set the Rabbitohs up.
The ball was spread out to Cody Walker who stepped through the Tigers defence and looked to power over the line.
However, a desperate defensive effort from Wests was enough to stop the half-back grounding the ball.
Just minutes later though, the Rabbitohs finally grabbed their third try.
Reynolds fired a bullet pass out to Jame Roberts who raced around the outside of a ball-watching Tigers defence to score from 30-metres out.
The Tigers capitulation continued just before the hour mark, as a quick catch and pass from Reynolds gave Gagai plenty of room to score the easiest hat-trick try he’ll ever score, and also his first hat-trick in Souths colours.
With 20 minutes still to go, there was still plenty of time for the Tigers to get something from the game.
After Mitchell connected high with Luke Garner, Wests started an attacking set in the middle of the field, just ten metres outs.
After peppering the Rabbitohs line for a few minutes, Harry Grant skipped out from dummy-half and passed back on the inside to Josh Aloiai to power over.
Moses Mbye converted to cut the deficit to 12-points.
That gap was swiftly cut to eight, as a set restart allowed the Tigers to attack the left-hand edge.
A long pass from Luke Brooks out to Mbye gave the centre the time and space needed to attract the Dane Gagai and throw a pass to Reece Hoffman to cross on debut.
With five minutes to go, the Tigers crossed once again.
On the fifth tackle, a Benji Marshall crossfield kick wasn’t grabbed by anyone competing in the air and was gathered by Michael Chee-Kam to dot down in the corner.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball came forward off the fingers of David Nofoaluma and the try was disallowed.
The Rabbitohs began to control the game once again in the final stages, and a barraging run from Junior Tatola left the Tigers inside their own ten-metre line in the final seconds.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 18-10 Wests Tigers
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mitchell, Gagai, Graham, Roberts, Johnston, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Lowe, Murray
Interchanges: Sironen, Mago, Sele, Nicholls
Tries: Gagai (3), Roberts
Goals: Reynolds (1/5)
Doueihi, Nofoaluma, Mbye, Lawrence, Hoffman, Reynolds, Brooks, Aloiai, Grant, Clark, Garner, Leilua, Eisenhuth
Interchanges: Chee-Kam, Taylor, Mikaele, Marshall
Tries: Aloiai, Hoffman
Goals: Mbye (1/2)
Referee: B. Cummins
Touch Judges: T. Roby, J. Stone
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)