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Alex Johnston stars as South Sydney down toothless Wests Tigers

Rabbitohs 32 Tigers 10

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Rabbitohs too good for wounded Tigers

Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner scored braces as the Rabbitohs thumped the Tigers on Friday night.

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Alex Johnston once played the role of a young Greg Inglis in an NRL television commercial and on Friday night the South Sydney rookie again emulated the absent superstar when he raced 65 metres from dummy half to score the decisive try in another courageous win by the injury-hit Rabbitohs team.

Just six nights after overcoming injuries to Inglis, centres Dylan Walker and Bryson Goodwin and utility Jason Clark to beat the Warriors 34-18 in Perth, Souths were again reduced to just one player on the bench after losing George Burgess (ankle), Joe Picker (concussion) and Kirisome Auva'a (ankle).

Rabbit run: Kyle Turner goes over on the half-hour mark to extend South Sydney's lead.

Rabbit run: Kyle Turner goes over on the half-hour mark to extend South Sydney's lead. Photo: Anthony Johnson

South Sydney versus Wests Tigers
View Match Statistics
Players Johnston(2), Turner(2), Merritt Tries 5 Tries 2 Players Austin, Tedesco
Players Reynolds 5/5 (100%) Conversions 5 Conversions 1 Players Richards 1/2 (50%)
Players Reynolds 1/1 (100%) Penalty goals 1 Penalty goals 0 Players
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

With Inglis, Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen on State of Origin duty for Queensland and Walker, Goodwin and Joel Reddy sidelined by injury, Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire called on Johnston, Auva'a and fellow young gun Kyle Turner out wide and the trio repaid his faith with starring roles in an historic night which also featured the second appearance of all four Burgess brothers in the same match.

The only other occasion on which the Burgess quartet had played together was also against the Tigers in last year's round-25 clash at Allianz Stadium, won 32-18 by Souths.

The Rabbitohs again won, 32-10, but this time it was the performance of the team's rookies that most excited South Sydney fans in the 20,721 crowd.

Tiger toughs: Souths centre Kirisome Auva'a is bundled into touch just short of the line.

Tiger toughs: Souths centre Kirisome Auva'a is bundled into touch just short of the line. Photo: Anthony Johnson

While he may not have morphed into Inglis as a shirtless Johnston did after catching a bomb and scoring a try in the 2009 NRL commercial, the 19-year-old winger bought the ANZ Stadium crowd to their feet when he burst out of dummy half, pushed off Wests marker Blake Austin and ran 65 metres to the tryline just three minutes after half-time.

Austin had just scored the Tigers' first try of the match after Turner had been bundled into touch from a short kick-off by Pat Richards to start the second half, but Johnston noticed Tigers fullback James Tedesco was not in position after chasing an attacking kick from Luke Brooks and took advantage with his dummy half run.

The try effectively sealed the win for the Rabbitohs, catapulting them into the top four. Johnston also scored in the first half after the Tigers allowed a John Sutton bomb to bounce and Sam Burgess tapped the ball back to Issac Luke, who passed to the unmarked winger.

Tom Burgess puts on a big fend.

Tom Burgess puts on a big fend. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Turner, who played in the centres, also scored two tries and he was involved in three tackles in which Wests players were bundled over the sideline to give the Rabbitohs possession.

Sam Burgess had another big game in his final season for the club and was instrumental in Souths' other try after putting Nathan Merritt over in the 54th minute, but there was concern about the fitness of brother George after he limped up the tunnel midway through the second half with an ankle injury.

Thomas and Luke Burgess also played but the quartet did not get on the field together as they did last year. However, they did create another piece of history as the only set of four brothers to play in the same side more than once. The only other set of four brothers to feature in the same team, the Normans from Annandale in 1910, played together just once.

Dene Halatau of the Tigers is assisted from the field after sustaining an injury.

Dene Halatau of the Tigers is assisted from the field after sustaining an injury. Photo: Getty Images

It was also only the fourth time that four Englishmen have been in the same side in a premiership match.   

After the match, South Sydney coach Michael Maguire said Johnston's second try was the turning point.

"It was a huge play, a turnaround play like that," he said.

George Burgess in action. Click for more photos

NRL: Round 14 - South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have defeated the West Tigers, 32-10 at ANZ Stadium on Friday night. Photography by Anthony Johnson. Like these photos? Selected images available from Follow us at Photo: Anthony Johnson

"That's the way Alex is, he looks like he is running on the spot but he is actually going really quickly.

"It changed the momentum of the game - they obviously had a bit of control the Wests Tigers and he turned it around."

Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter echoed his counterpart's sentiments.

"We were right back in the hunt, six points adrift, there is plenty of time left and that just breaks your heart," Potter said.

"The fundamentals, we can't have a team just running up behind our ruck like that.

"Teddy (Tedesco) was winded, he was on his way back and we didn't have a fullback at that particular time."

Joe Picker was taken from the field with concussion in the first half, while Auva'a also suffered an ankle injury in the second half and failed to finish the game.

Wests Tigers utility Dene Halatau, who was making his NRL return to the club with whom he won a grand final in 2005, was also taken off the field having suffered a concussion.

5 comments so far

  • What a biased, one sided report. While Souths were clearly the better side, the lack of balance in this report is disgraceful. The entire article was about how well poor hard done by Souths played. Wests had to endure no Farah and no Woods, still have several players out, had a bunch of players returning from injury and lost Halatau to a shocking injury during the match yet all we heard of was poor old Souths. And let's not mention the appallingly one sided refereeing and the 2 - 1 penalty count ratio - no team can win with that type of count, and a possession ratio of 60% to the Rabbits. How about a bit of balance Brad? Poor show mate.

    E White
    Date and time
    June 13, 2014, 11:00PM
    • Up there with Imbecile Comment of the Year.

      So you think that losing a forward in Woods, Farrah etc. is equivalent to Souths having 5 players unavailable including 3 SOO players and the best Centre in the game atm in Walker before the game?

      The Tigpies also weren't made to play with only one man left on the bench during the game like Souths either.

      How the penalty ratio was not 4-1 instead of 2-1 defies comprehension because truth be told, the Tigpies took holding down the tackled player on every tackle to another level and should've been penalised out of the game. Truth be told the refs saved the Tigpies from a 50 point drubbing.

      As for the possession, it's the Tigpies own fault they dropped the ball in the Spuths 20 on several occasions and it was the Souths defence that pushed them into touch several times.

      Just suck it up buddy like Souths did when they had a shocker against the Tigpies last up instead of posting rubbish.

      Ramsgate Beach
      Date and time
      June 14, 2014, 12:41PM
  • Agreed! The Tigers come ready to play and were still at it at the end of the game. Really, the match was in balance until well into the second half. Give credit to them!

    Date and time
    June 14, 2014, 8:56AM
    • To all other clubs.....especially you Phil......get your hands off Souths young up & comers.

      Date and time
      June 14, 2014, 9:58AM
      • Yeah good luck with that. Especially as Souths do the same.

        Date and time
        June 14, 2014, 10:47AM

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