The Roar
The Roar


ANALYSIS: Bunnies bounce back against Tigers in Tamworth as Mitchell impresses in return from injury

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28th July, 2023

All eyes were on Latrell Mitchell as he made his return for South Sydney in Tamworth and the star fullback delivered as the Rabbitohs cruised to a 32-18 win over the Wests Tigers on Friday night.

While it was technically a Tigers home game, the match was played in front of a packed Scully Park crowd in Tamworth with many Bunnies fans to cheer on their team, and Mitchell fans eager to get a glimpse of their local hero.

Mitchell has been out of action for the Rabbitohs since Round 12 with a calf injury that also saw him ruled out of the entire Origin series. He was a late withdrawal against the Broncos last week but was fighting fit for the tussle with the Tigers.

While he wasn’t at his electrifying best, Mitchell made it through the entire 80 minutes seemingly unscathed with seven tackle busts, converting four from six and helping his team secure two valuable competition points that see them back in the Top 8.

“He came up with some big plays and some big moments,” said Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou of his fullback.

“He’s one of the best players in the game for a reason, and we saw glimpses of that tonight.”

Another Rabbitohs star who shone brightly on Friday night was Alex Johnston, scoring half of his team’s tries, notching up yet another hat-trick and breaking another record.


Tough night for Tigers

It was another tough night for the Tigers, who have only managed three wins throughout the entire 2023 season.

Halfback Luke Brooks was another big name returning after a long stint on the sideline, suffering a hamstring injury in Round 15.

An early intercept by Johnston saw the Bunnies open the scoring in the first minute. The Tigers hit back soon after when a grubber was fumbled in goal by the Rabbitohs only to be pounced on by Api Koroisau.

But it was all the Bunnies for the rest of the first half, with Johnson bringing up his double, while Isaiah Tass and Keaon Koloamatangi joined the scorecard. With the Rabbitohs heading to the sheds leading 20-6, it looked like another Tigers thrashing was on the cards.

Wests however came out in the second half looking like a brand new team, giving the Rabbitohs a scare. They scored not long after the break when a flying Isaiah Papali’i chased down a kick from Koroisau bringing the deficit to eight. Papali’i thought he had his second son after but the bunker ruled a ‘no try after finding a knock-on from Korosiau in the lead-up.


They couldn’t take the next one off the Tigers when Fonua Pole stormed over the line to have his team just trail by two, and they underdogs look like they could cause an upset.

But the try-scoring machine on the Bunnies’ left wing had other ideas, grabbing his third try for the night. Skipper Cam Murray joined the party with four minutes to play, putting the game well out of reach for the struggling Tigers.

Johnston is back in the record books

Take a bow Mr Johnston. The Rabbitohs meat pie machine already holds the titles of being his club’s all-time try scorer, as well as becoming the first player in history to score 30 tries in consecutive seasons.

The record breaker was at it again on Friday, scoring the most multiple tries in a game in rugby league history.

Can you believe they actually looked at getting rid of him a couple of years ago?


With just five rounds left, it looks all but certain that the Tigers will be taking out back-to-back wooden spoons.

Sitting four points behind the Bulldogs and the Dragons, and with a fairly tough run home facing the Raiders, Warriors, Dolphins, Roosters and Sea Eagles, it’s going to take a miracle for the joint venture to avoid finishing in last place.

Bush trip is great but Sheens not happy with team

Whenever the game heads out to the country, the locals never fail to fill out the ground.

It was the same on Friday night in Tamworth, with Scully Park completely sold out earlier in the week. And it never matters where the town is or who the teams are, they are always welcomed with open arms.

“You can’t give a side like that a 20-point start,” he said.

“First half (we made) mistakes, a 58 per cent completion, I hate talking that sort of stuff but in real terms, the games we’ve won this year we were at 80 or 90 per cent.


“We were giving too much footy away, we’re not that good a team to be able to give that away.”