Rabbitohs fullback Corey Allan was the hero in his side's emphatic last-gasp 24-20 victory over the St. George Illawarra Dragons at the Metricon High Performance Centre at Redfern Oval.
A number of changes were made before kick-off, most notably with halfback Connor Tracey being replaced by Jack Johns.
But Tracey’s absence wasn’t immediately missed, as the side shot out of the blocks with a bomb from five-eighth Bayley Sironen seeing replacement winger Dylan O’Connor scoop up the pill from a Dragons error to score in the first minute of the match.
Another Dragons error was backed up with a penalty, giving the Red and Green another shot to strike, and after prop Rhys Kennedy was held up, another penalty allowed the home side to produce more pressure.
And that turned into points as Kennedy made sure he got the ball down on his next effort, doubling his side’s lead after ten minutes, with Mawene Hiroti’s conversion giving the side a 10-nil lead after ten minutes.
But the Dragons would strike next as Luciano Leilua produced a break 30 metres out, touching down next to the posts. Zac Lomax converted the try to close the gap to four.
A slew of errors from the Dragons gave the Red and Green with ample opportunity to strike back, midway through the half, but from the home side couldn't manage to get the final shot in.
However, the Rabbitohs failed to waver and their pressure then produced points, as Johns made his first play of the match, placing a perfectly weighted grubber for centre Jacob Gagan to score. Hiroti’s conversion gave the side a ten-point buffer just after a quarter of the match.
The final ten minutes of the second half turned into an arm-wrestle, with the Dragons forcing a drop-out and both sides exchanging errors with no further points being scored.
The second stanza began in the most undesirable start, with the kick-off going out on the full. setting the tone for the next period of the match.
With the ensuing penalty giving the Dragons a chance to close the margin, the defence was on red-alert, and the commitment from the South Sydney contingent forced an error from their opponents.
Two quick-fire tries handed the Dragons the lead as they gained the ascendency, however, the Cardinal and Myrtle refused to give in, continuing to ask questions of their opponents despite their discipline cruelling them.
The sides exchanged penalty kicks to see the Dragons lead by two with minutes left, but a number of errors welcomed back the Rabbitohs back into the match.
Johns and Allan then combined for the game-winning play in the 77th minute, with the fullback honing in on a grubber kick and kicking ahead himself to dive over in the corner.
Mawene Hiroti was on-song with the boot, kicking four from four, icing a 24-18 win for the Red and Green in a memorable contest.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 (Dylan O’Connor, Rhys Kennedy, Jacob Gagan, Corey Allan tries; Mawene Hiroti 4 goals)
St. George Illawarra Dragons 20 (Luciano Leilua, Tristan Sailor, Jackson Ford tries; Zac Lomax 4 goals)