Latrell Mitchell got the goods against a Wests Tigers outfit that was prepared to pay him almost $3 million last year, but the South Sydney star's triumph may yet cost him dearly after a fiery running battle with Josh Reynolds.
An avalanche of first-half possession and resulting Dane Gagai hat-trick saw South Sydney get past the Tigers in a tense 18-10 affair.
Tempers flared almost from the outset and Mitchell's could cost him doubly after being placed on report for a high shot, and also clocking an unsighted Reynolds on the chin with a swinging arm off-the-ball in a second incident.
The Tigers No.6 himself will have a case to answer for his "indiscriminate kick" at an errant ball that collected Campbell Graham's head in the seventh minute.
Mitchell responded by flying into the fray and flooring Reynolds from behind with an unnecessary high shot, not entirely unlike the brain fade that saw Tigers centre Joey Leilua suspended for a month.
Reynolds in turn advised him to "wake up to yourself" with a description unfit to print.
Match: Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers
Round 9 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Mitchell was already expected to sweat the match review committee's findings when he rose on Saturday.
But he made sure of it with another clumsy swing that took Luke Garner around the neck when he broke into the backfield.
Again Reynolds made sure his thoughts on Mitchell's were crystal clear, referee Ben Cummins having to advise him to "add value over there" before citing the Rabbitohs No.1.
Meanwhile, a rare off night from the kicking tee for Adam Reynolds gave the Tigers just enough of a sniff to threaten a late comeback.
The Rabbitohs found serious fortune targeting Moses Mbye with four tries down his left edge, and an 18-0 lead that held until past the hour mark.
That Reynolds was unable to convert any of them meant a couple of rapid fire tries to Josh Aloiai and rookie winger Reece Hoffman kept things interesting.
And having made all the running for 60 minutes, the Rabbitohs suddenly went to water late.
But for a David Nofoaluma touch in the air, Michael Chee-Kam would have had the Bunnies all-but boiled when he touched down with five minutes to go.
In reality though, this was the Rabbitohs' game from go almost through to woah.
Even with Liam Knight suffering an ankle injury in the warm-up and sporting a moonboot by kick-off.
Gagai secures his hat-trick
With the Tigers making an extra 60 tackles by half-time, their gritty defence eventually cracked when Gagai slid over from one picturesque right-side shift in the 32nd minute.
And soon enough Mitchell, who met with Tigers officials last November in Taree before a lucrative three-year offer was briefly considered, had the Queensland winger over again.
With a 10-0 half-time lead James Roberts took flight after the break for his first try since returning to the side.
Again it was Mbye caught out as Adam Reynolds piloted a cut-out ball past him and Roberts sped past several of his teammates.
Bennett: Diagnosis not as bad as first thought on Knight
By the time Benji Marshall came off the bench for his first game in a month, the game looked well and truly gone.
Gagai helped himself to the first hat-trick of 192-game career in the 56th minute.
From there the Tigers came storming home.
And never too far from the action, it was Mitchell once more with a defining play, chopping down Harry Grant with a try-saver that could've made all the difference.