South Sydney Rabbitohs proved to be too much of a test for Wigan Warriors in their first game of 2018.
Everyone who played for Wigan against Hull FC last week also featured against South Sydney. Warriors coach Shaun Wane also played John Bateman, Josh Ganson, Jake Shorrocks, Romain Navarrete, Callum Field, Joe Burgess, Gabe Hamlin, Craig Mullen and Liam Paisley.
England stars Tom Burgess and George Burgess played a part for the Rabbitohs while Lebanon duo Adam Doueihi and Robbie Farah started in the halves.
Wigan got off to a great start as youngster Tom Davies latched onto a Sean O’Loughlin chip to finish excellently. Sam Tomkins couldn’t convert but Wigan were 4-0 up after five minutes.
England ace Tom Burgess drew South Sydney level in the 12th minute as he went on a barnstorming run to reach over the line. Doueihi failed to convert, 4-4.
They took the lead just five minutes later. Hymel Hunt made a flying break and assisted the supporting Campbell Hunt who scored out wide. Doueihi’s conversion attempt went wide but the Rabbitohs were 8-4 to the good.
Warriors winger Liam Marshall was sent to the sin bin on the half hour mark after committing a professional foul as he interfered with play.
And the Rabbitohs took advantage of having the extra man. They used the overlap and passed it out wide to Richard Kennar who dived over in the corner. Damien Cook failed to convert but the Rabbitohs were 12-4 ahead after 31 minutes.
Davies got his second and Wigan’s second with just a few minutes of the first half remaining. The conversion was off target and South Sydney only led 12-8 at the break.
South Sydney piled pressure on the Warriors defence in the second half and for 10 minutes in particular, as they forced four consecutive goal-line drop-outs. Credit must go to Wigan though, with them managing to keep the Rabbitohs at bay.
Doueihi all but sealed the win for the NRL giants five minutes from time. The Lebanon star showed great support play to go over from close range. He converted his own try to seal an 18-8 victory for the Rabbitohs.
South Sydney: 1 Johnston; 2 Kennar, 3 Hunt, 4 Jennings, 5 Graham; 6 Doueihi, 7 Farah; 8 T Burgess, 9 Cook, 10 Nicholls; 11 Fuimaono, 12 Britt; 13 Clark (C). Subs: 14 Tracey, 15 Ta’avale, 16 G Burgess, 17 Tatola, 18 Hiroti, 20 Gagan, 21 Talakai.
Wigan: 1 S Tomkins; 2 T Davies, 3 Sarginson, 4 Gildart, 5 Burgess; 6 Williams, 7 Powell; 8 Clubb, 9 Leuluai, 10 Flower; 11 J Tomkins, 12 Farrell; 13 O’Loughlin (C). Subs: 14 Bateman, 15 Sutton, 17 Tautai, 19 Isa, 20 Escaré, 22 Marshall, 23 Ganson, 24 Shorrocks, 25 Navarrete, 27 Field, 30 Hamlin, 38 Mullen, 39 Paisley.
Starman: Adam Doueihi – he had lots of creativity going forward and looks set to have a fine career in the NRL.