Souths on top of NRL after workmanlike win over Tigers
South Sydney are back atop the NRL ladder after proving they have the defensive capabilities to go with their attacking flair in grinding out a 20-0 win over Wests Tigers.
Renowned as one of the best strike teams in the competition, Souths were left to win out in a dour affair with the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
The match featured one try in the opening 70 minutes, before Taane Milne finished off a double and Latrell Mitchell crossed late to wrap it up.
Jason Demetriou's men have emerged as the league's best team over the past month, bumping them into second favourites for the premiership behind Penrith.
They have won six straight games for the first time since their run to the 2021 grand final.
Going above Brisbane on for-and-against also has them first this late in the season for the first time since 2018.
"You've got to deliver and deliver in different ways," Demetriou said.
"It was pleasing to get the nought tonight because it's something the boys have been working hard at.
"If we keep that up, we know we're a team that can score points.
"It gives us the opportunity to stay in games longer and put pressure on the opposition to force their hand."
It wasn't thrilling but the Rabbitohs did enough to win after losing prop Tom Burgess to back spasms in the warm up.
Their only try in a set-for-set opening 70 minutes came when Milne when he stepped Tigers fullback Jahream Bula and he crossed again late off a ball from in-form centre Campbell Graham.
Mitchell put the icing on the cake in the dying minutes after limited good ball made for a quieter afternoon than most for the fullback.
"It's a game over the last couple of years we would probably drop," Demetriou said.
"We would find a way not to be resilient and stick to what we know works for us. But we didn't, were really composed."
The Tigers continue to show signs of being a much improved team on the one that began the season with seven straight losses.
But after two wins against Penrith and St George Illawarra, they lacked anywhere near enough spark to threaten the Rabbitohs.
Their two most dangerous plays came when they produced a second kick on the last tackle, while Luke Brooks bust through late before a kick went to Damien Cook with the score still 8-0.
"Brooksy's run with Jahream on the inside that we failed to nail would have helped," coach Tim Sheens said.
"We're disappointed. I don't think we played like a 20-0 team. But we didn't score. And that is a problem for us.
"We had our moments, and they had theirs. They nailed theirs. We didn't."
Alex Twal also went close to his first NRL try after 112 games with a first-half surge.
But like Twal's career try-scoring tally, the Tigers were destined to finish the afternoon on zero.