Souths beat Tigers 32-18
South Sydney have set up a final round blockbuster to decide the NRL minor premiership after overcoming an almighty scare to down Wests Tigers 32-18 on Friday night.
Souths beat Tigers 32-18by AAP
By Steve Jancetic
SYDNEY, August 30 AAP - South Sydney have set up a final round blockbuster to decide the NRL minor premiership after overcoming an almighty scare to down Wests Tigers 32-18 on Friday night.
The Rabbitohs will host arch-rivals Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium next Friday with the winner to finish the regular season in top spot - an epic entree ahead of a tantalising finals series.
It was a scenario which seemed a long way off when the Bunnies trailed 18-0 after just 14 minutes - the Tigers running in three tries while Englishman Sam Burgess spent ten minutes off the field for what seemed a harsh sin-binning.
He repaid his teammates with a powerful second-half try to lock things up at 18-all early in the second half - brother Luke completing a memorable night for the family with his first NRL try in the dying stages.
What shaped as a night of celebration as the four Burgess brothers took the field together for the first time - matching a feat not accomplished in 103 years - threatened to turn into a nightmare during the unexpected early onslaught.
Sam Burgess - in his first game back from a two-game suspension for his infamous squirrel grip on Melbourne's Will Chambers - was binned in just the fourth minute after laying down too long on James Tedesco after a long break.
By the time he ran back on after serving his time, Ben Murdoch-Masila was scoring the Tigers' third try in seven minutes.
A loss could have left the Bunnies struggling to hold onto second spot - but two tries before the break, including a late Dylan Farrell four-pointer after Lote Tuqiri had an airswing at cleaning up an Adam Reynolds kick, invited the visitors back into the contest.
While they were made to work for it - as evidenced by the fact Reynolds had to kick a 41 metres penalty goal to give them their first lead in the 66th minute - a Souths win always seemed likely from there.
And so it proved to be as Nathan Merritt and Luke Burgess crossed late, the latter's try sending mother Julie - sitting in owner Russell Crowe's private box - into hysterics.
It set up another special moment for the four brothers as Sam joined the other three on the field for the final minutes - one special set featuring five Burgess hit-ups.
Sam Burgess was still scratching his head over the sin-binning after the contest, but it failed to spoil a special night
"It's certainly disappointing to get ten minutes," Burgess said.
"I didn't say a word. I'm a bit confused.
"Madge (coach Michael Maguire) got us all out there at the same time which was a pretty cool moment, it's going to be one that we'll remember for a while, we certainly enjoyed that."
Maguire admitted it was now all before his troops with the minor premiership on the line.
"It's a great opportunity for the club, the players and another important game," he said.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere and have that finals feel.
"The boys want to be able to add a little bit of that history along the way."
It wasn't the Sydney send off Benji Marshall wanted in his 200th and penultimate game for the club, but he did give the fans something to savour spending 45 minutes on the ground after the game thanking his fans.