Rabbitohs v Tigers: Five key points
Fri 03 Mar, 2017, 10:08pm
By Tony Webeck , Chief Queensland Correspondent , NRL.com
Tedesco taunts Rabbitohs again
No team has discovered a way to stop the tackle-busting ways of James Tedesco and the Wests Tigers fullback had a field day in the greasy conditions amidst the big South Sydney forwards.
He scored his seventh try in nine games against the Rabbitohs in the 19th minute and then six minutes later laid one on for Chris Lawrence with a perfectly-timed pass after skipping across in front of the South Sydney defence.
By half-time he had 94 run metres, a try, a line-break, a line-break assist and six tackle busts, prompting Fox Sports’ Mark Gasnier to declare that “he will be the best fullback in the game this year by a country mile”.
With his first touch of the second half he put David Nofoaluma away from a kick return before backing up and providing the final pass for Mitchell Moses to finish off a spectacular 90-metre try under the posts.
The only ‘up and under’ that troubled him was an upset stomach that brought his night to a premature end with 154 metres, two try assists, three line-break assists, 10 tackle busts and two line breaks.
All of which added up to a whopping 78 Fantasy points.
Inglis a passenger as Rabbitohs unravel
If the loss of halfback Adam Reynolds in the lead-up wasn’t enough, South Sydney’s problems were compounded inside 10 minutes when star fullback and captain Greg Inglis went down with an injury to the same knee that has plagued him in recent seasons.
Chasing through to put pressure on a James Tedesco kick return, Inglis was flung to the ground awkwardly and immediately grabbed at his left knee.
From that point on he became a passenger on the Rabbitohs’ right wing and such was his lack of movement became something of a target for 18-year-old Moses Suli on debut.
But proving you should never underestimate a player of Inglis’s ability, the Tigers left the Rabbitohs’ skipper completely unmarked and a pin-point Cody Walker kick on tackle one found a limping Inglis who gathered possession and hobbled over the try-line just before half-time.
With centre Hymel Hunt forced from the field with concussion midway through the first half Inglis bravely returned for 18 minutes of the second stanza but after eventually leaving the field the focus will now turn to whether it is an injury that will keep him off for any length of time.
Tigers’ skill slices South Sydney to shreds
It was the first game of the season and played in awful conditions yet the scintillating Wests Tigers backline wasted no time in expressing themselves and showing that points will not be a problem in 2017.
Halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks shared the playmaking responsibilities evenly, Tedesco was near unstoppable, David Nofoaluma was offloading the ball at will when he wasn’t busting through tackles and on debut 18-year-old Moses Suli came up with two try assists and a try of his own as the Tigers turned an 18-8 half-time lead into a 34-8 advantage after just 17 minutes of the second term.
The first six tries they scored were all a joy to behold and sent an ominous warning to teams who face the prospect of trying to contain them on a dry track in the coming weeks.
Farah fares OK in Rabbitohs debut
After eight minutes and a Greg Inglis knee injury the attention that had been on Robbie Farah all week was quickly deflected and the new South Sydney No.9 produced a typically industrious performance. His first tackle came fittingly on Tigers skipper Aaron Woods and South Sydney’s first attacking set saw the former Tiger heavily involved in his team’s first try for Bryson Goodwin.
As the game wore on the absence of Adam Reynolds became more and more obvious as Luke Kelly struggled to wrest control of the game away from the Tigers, Farah trying to assert himself on the direction his team was supposed to be heading.
He stayed on the field as another playmaking option when Damien Cook came onto the field midway through the second half and displayed enough classy touches in difficult circumstances to indicate the role he will play in South Sydney’s fortunes this season.
Reynolds’ absence leaves Rabbitohs searching for answers
Perhaps no team has had their season brought undone by a bout of appendicitis before but Adam Reynolds’ absence became glaring as the game wore on for South Sydney.
Although Cody Walker was the Rabbitohs’ brightest on a tough night, Luke Kelly’s kicking game was ineffective and the introduction of Damien Cook after 53 minutes brought some much-needed spark to their attack.
Moving Farah to the No.7 could be a short-term solution but the return of Reynolds can’t come quick enough for the Redfern faithful.