Wests Tigers 24-26 South Sydney Rabbitohs: Bunnies hold off fightback to keep top-four hopes alive

By Sports Desk September 10, 2020

South Sydney Rabbitohs limped to a slender 26-24 victory in Thursday's NRL clash with Wests Tigers after nearly blowing a 20-point first-half lead at Bankwest Stadium.

The visitors held a commanding advantage with half an hour played but had to hold on at the end of a game that saw three men sin binned in the second half.

Defeat for the Tigers ends their hopes of reaching the finals, while the Bunnies move into fifth and within two points of Sydney Roosters, who play Newcastle Knights on Saturday.

A dramatic contest only looked to be heading one way when the Rabbitohs, beaten 22-16 by Melbourne Storm last time out, racked up three quickfire tries.

Dane Gagai, Corey Allan and Campbell Graham crossed over in the space of 15 minutes, with Adam Reynolds converting all three to help give his side an early 20-0 lead.

The hosts produced a remarkable comeback against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles last week and were at it again when Luke Garner and Tommy Talau dotted down before the interval.

Alex Twal was sent to the sin bin eight minutes into the second half and tempers further flared two minutes later as Gagai chucked the ball at Luke Brooks' head.

A melee ensued and both men joined Twal in being issued yellows, with the Rabbitohs making the one-man advantage count as Graham raced behind for his second try.

But Brooks scored an impressive try after returning to the field to give the Tigers hope and Asu Kepaoa touched down three minutes later after being played in by Benji Marshall.

Just two points separated the sides for the closing 14 minutes but there was to be no further scoring as the Tigers came up just short.

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    430 – Smith holds the record for most NRL games following a glittering career in the Australian competition, having debuted for the Storm in 2002. He is the only player to have amassed over 400 appearances.

    310 – He also holds the record for most wins in premiership matches. Of those victories, 242 were as skipper – the most as a captain.

    2,786 – No player has scored more points in NRL premiership history than the hooker, well ahead of Hazem El Masri (2,418) and Johnathan Thurston (2,222).

    1,295 – Smith stands alone for goals kicked in the NRL – 353 more than any other player in premiership history.

    16,913 – Not just an elite kicker, Smith tallied the most tackles by any player since the beginning of the NRL era in 1998.

    3 – Smith ends his NRL career with Premierships in 2012, 2017 and 2020. It could have been five, but the Storm were stripped of Grand Final triumphs in 2007 and 2009 due to salary-cap breaches.

    42 – A Maroons veteran, he is the most-capped player in State of Origin history. Smith first appeared for Queensland in 2003.

    56 – Smith represented Australia more than fifty times. Only Darren Lockyer (59) managed more than Smith for the Kangaroos.

    33 – Lockyer (38) is the only player to have captained Australia on more occasions than Smith, who led the country to Rugby League World Cup glory in 2013 and 2017.

    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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