The Rabbitohs beat the Tigers 44-18 on the back of eight tries to three and a hat-trick from Alex Johnston to break his club’s all-time record at the Accor Stadium.
Asu Kepaoa produced an interception of a pass from Lachlan Ilias to go the full length of the field and give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
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Ken Maumalo showed up in the corner to continue the Tigers’ early dominance and give the visitors a 10-0 advantage.
Cameron Murray was penalized for hands in a tackle on Joe Ofahengaue which dislodged the ball allowing Brooks to extend the lead to 12-0.
Alex Johnston scored to get the Bunnies back in the contest and move into one of Nathan Merritt’s all-time Souths try records.
Siliva Havili charged through a shaky Tigers defense to see the Souths lock the scores at 12-12.
Maumalo ensured the Tigers would have the last laugh in the first half and regain the lead at 18-12 at the break.
Johnston bagged his second draw tied with Merritt as South Sydney’s top try scorer with 146 and scored 18-16 for the Tigers.
Campbell Graham dove from the dummy to give the Souths their first lead of the night at 22-18.
Graham set up Johnston for his hat trick that took him to 147 career tries to break Merritt’s record and be crowned the greatest of all time.
Cody Walker jumped on a Lachlan Ilias grubber to start the party for Souths after extending the lead to 14 points.
Walker scored his second on a pass from Ilias for the Bunnies to celebrate in style in a seven-for-three demolition.
Jaxson Paulo capped the beating with an interception attempt to mirror the Tigers’ opener to seal a 44-18 victory.
Here are the main takeaways from the game.
JOHNSTON HAT-TRICK SEAL ALL-TIME SOUTHERN RECORD
It’s hard to believe Souths fans had to convince the club to keep Alex Johnston at some point after breaking the club’s try-scoring record against the Tigers.
Johnston scored a hat-trick to score his 147th try as a freshman, breaking South Sydney’s all-time record, held by Nathan Merrit, with 146.
The 27-year-old has a real shot at chasing a record no one ever thought would be broken on Ken Irvine’s 212 tries, if he can get any luck with injuries at the end of his career.
Warren Smith paid tribute to Johnston’s remarkable feats in testing.
“Johnston scored his 10th hat trick in his time in the NRL,” Smith said.
“Quite remarkable on the night he becomes the all-time top try scorer for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who have been around since 1908.”
Johnston finished with 84 yards, nine tackle jumps, three line jumps and most importantly three tries to break the record and he looks set to extend his own mark for a long time.
BROOKS FIGHTS BACK AS LEFT EDGE OF TIGERS SHINES
Luke Brooks looked short on his return from a hamstring injury as he kicked the ball in twice in a scrappy performance.
Brooks had 36 yards on the run and a linebreak assist, but he made three errors and four missed tackles and kicked poorly.
It was a two-half game for Brooks and the Tigers who looked excellent in the first half, especially their left edge led by Daine Laurie and Ken Maumalo, who bagged a brace.
Cooper Cronk was full of praise for Laurie who dominated on his return from injury, especially in the first half.
“I really like what Daine Laurie is doing, I think he was the best player on the pitch in the first half,” Cronk said.
“When the Tigers go left, they look very dangerous.”
Benji Marshall also noted the excellent attack on the left side of the Tigers, which they unfortunately moved away from in the second half.
“We talked before the game about the Tigers and their left edge offense and the combination of Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings,” Marshall said.
“I think they did a great job going down there and staying consistent with their offense.
“Daine Laurie was outstanding in the first half to get Ken Maumalo through.”
WALKER AND ILIAS SHINE AFTER SLOW START
Cody Walker, like the Rabbitohs, had a slow start as the Tigers led 12-0, but came home to lead his team to a comprehensive victory.
Walker had 18 yards running, four tackle saves, a line break and two tries as he took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Michael Ennis nearly dared Walker to run the footy at halftime and he had to listen as he landed a second-half double for Souths to run away with.
“He hasn’t run the footy yet tonight,” Ennis said of Walker at halftime.
“He had some nice touches but didn’t really take the line.
“He has to run Cody footy.”
Walker received plenty of support from partner Lachlan Ilias, who also had 18 yards running, one tackle jump, one assist and two assists.
The pair have arguably put in their best performances as a combination and that’s something the Rabbitohs can build on as a potential turning point in their season.
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The South Sydney Rabbitohs host the Wests Tigers in a crucial clash at the Accor Stadium.
The Rabbitohs have revamped their squad with Kodi Nikorima a shock choice at the back with Blake Taaffe moving to the bench.
Skipper Cameron Murray returns to the lock in the No.24 shirt, with Hame Sele dropping to the bench.
Tevita Tatola is out with Mark Nicholls returning to start at the prop, while Liam Knight is also out with Shaquai Mitchell joining the pine in the No.24 jersey.
The Tigers host Daine Laurie at fullback, while Luke Brooks returns from a hamstring injury at five-eighths.
Jake Simpkin returns to the No.9 jersey with the retirement of Jacob Liddle, while Alex Seyfarth joins the bench with the retirement of Alex Twal.
This sets the stage for a crucial clash with both sides desperate to stay in touch with the top eight on the brink of the Origin period.
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