The Rabbitohs and Tigers met at Bankwest Stadium with both teams looking for greater consistency, after a mixed restart to the season.
The Rabbitohs dominated early and would have won comfortably, if not for the errant boot of Adam Reynolds. They scored four tries to two and managed to hold off a late Tigers revival to win 18-10.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire changed his line-up to include veteran Benji Marshall on the bench, but it was the man ahead of him for the No. 6 jersey who fired this clash up in the early stages.
Five minutes into the game a fumbled intercept opportunity by Tigers winger David Nofoaluma was kicked ahead and chased through by five-eighth Josh Reynolds. Reynolds tried to kick it on further, missed and instead kicked Campbell Graham in the head, as the Souths centre bent to pick it up.
It was extremely careless, although clearly unintentional, but as Reynolds was checking on the results of his errant boot, Latrell Mitchell charged in and clocked him on the jaw with a swinging right. Reynolds was placed on report for the kick, the Rabbitohs received the penalty and in the ensuing set of tackles they received another and Adam Reynolds kicked them to a 2-0 lead.
The first half settled into a defensive battle, with both sides looking to dominate through the forwards. The Rabbitohs enjoyed the better of the few attacking opportunities, but the Tigers were tenacious in defence.
With 12 minutes left in the half, the Rabbitohs challenged a high tackle call against them. The replays showed the initial contact from Jaydn Su'A was to the shoulder of Tigers Adam Doueihi, even though his hand then hit him in the chin, splitting the young fullback. From the resulting scrum, Souths were again bundled into touch by the Tigers defence.
With nine minutes remaining in the half, the Rabbitohs turned down an opportunity to double their lead, preferring instead to attack the Tigers line and it paid off. They spread the ball to their right and Dane Gagai dived over in the corner after a well-timed final pass from Cody Walker. Reynolds missed the conversion to leave the Rabbitohs 6-0 in front.
Seven minutes later Gagai was in again, this time Mitchell threw the final pass in a sweeping movement to the right. Reynolds missed again and the halftime score was 10-0 in the Bunnies favour.
Early in the second half, Gagai made a long break down the right again and shortly after Walker split them only to be held up over the line by the desperate Tigers defence. The rain started to tumble down as the Tigers pushed some poor passes in desperation.
Six minutes into the second half, the left-hand defence of the Tigers was found out yet again, with a perfect Reynolds pass putting James Roberts outside the compacted defence. Roberts came around to make the conversion easier, but Reynolds missed again leaving the score 14-0.
Ten minutes after the break, Marshall come on replacing hooker Harry Grant. Josh Reynolds moved into dummy-half as Marshall set about sparking the so far inept Tigers attack. But it was their defence that was to struggle further, with Gagai notching his hat-trick seven minutes later, with another Reynolds pass beating a outnumbered defensive line.
Reynolds continued his horror night with the boot, but the Rabbitohs were doing all the scoring to lead 18-0.
Mitchell was penalised for another high shot on a charging Luke Garner and Josh Reynolds was in his ear again.
Two minutes later, the Tigers were in for their first try of the night with Grant turning Josh Aloiai inside from five metres out. Moses Mbye converted to put the Tigers just 12 points down at 18-6, with 15 minutes remaining.
With 12 minutes remaining, the Tigers worked some magic through Marshall, Luke Brooks and Mbye to send Reece Hoffman over in the corner on debut. The young winger had been subject to a horror night in defence, but brought his side back into the contest with this four-pointer. Mbye missed the conversion leaving the score 18-10 in the Rabbitohs favour.
With five minutes on the clock, a Marshall bomb came off Nofoaluma's hands and was ruled to be a knocked-on, denying Michael Chee-Kam a try in the corner. It was the Tigers' last real throw of the dice, as they needed to score twice to catch the Bunnies.
The Rabbitohs held on despite the Tigers best efforts. Marshall had turned the Tigers attack around, but was left without enough time to turn the result.