The Rabbitohs are through to week two of the Telstra Premiership finals after ending the Roosters' season with a 30-14 win, coming at the end of a war of attrition on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium.
Across an 80 minutes best described as chaotic, there were seven sin-binnings - an NRL record, which included Victor Radley and Taane Milne both being sent on two separate occasions - and a high injury toll which saw four players suffer game-ending injuries inside the opening hour.
Among the casualties, the Roosters lost star fullback James Tedesco to a failed HIA, with Angus Crichton (HIA) and Daniel Tupou (groin) following.
It took just three minutes for emotions to spill over, with Radley the first of three players sent to the sin bin in the first half, in his case after being ruled to have thrown a punch during a scuffle with Milne.
Milne and Tom Burgess soon followed, with both sent for 10 minutes following singing arm tackles.
Burgess was in the thick of it again early in the second half, this time as the victim of a dangerous tackle from Jared Waera-Hargreaves which landed the Roosters prop in the bin. Burgess then left the field for an HIA which he failed.
Both side's responded remarkably well to their numerical disadvantages though, with the Roosters scoring twice during Radley's time off the field in the first half and South Sydney crossing for their second try while down to 11 men.
Amid the drama, the Rabbitohs took a 12-8 lead into the break thanks to converted tries to Alex Johnston and Latrell Mitchell.
By the time the second minute of the second half rolled around, the Roosters were down to 14 fit players, and South Sydney were on top, scoring further four-pointers through Johnston and Jai Arrow.
Isaiah Tass struck the final blow, selling the Roosters on a dummy out wide which allowed him to stroll through for his side's fifth try of the day.
- The game saw an NRL-record seven sin-binnings.
- Five of the eight tries scored in the game came while the scoring team had a numerical disadvantage due to a player, or players, being in the sin bin.
- The Roosters lost James Tedesco and Angus Crichton to failed HIAs inside the first half, while winger Daniel Tupou was ruled out with a groin injury.
- The Rabbitohs lost Tom Burgess to a failed HIA in the second half.
- Victor Radley and Taane Milne each went to the sin bin twice each.
- Alex Johnston scored his 29th and 30th tries of the season in the game to become the first player in Premiership history to score 30 tries in multiple seasons.
- After going down early the Roosters regained their composure and scored in quick succession through Crichton and Tupou.
- Sam Walker missed both conversions and the Roosters led 8-6 by the time Radley re-entered the field.
- With Burgess and Milne both in the sin bin, Latrell Mitchell scored and converted to put South Sydney back in front 12-8.
- South Sydney had another potential try ruled out 14 minutes from the half when the NRL Bunker found Keaon Koloamatangi had knocked on in the lead up.
- Johnston's second try was followed by Jai Arrow scoring.
- Nat Butcher quickly hit back with one of his own to leave the score at 24-14, but Isaiah - Tass scored the final try of the game and Mitchell converted for the final winning margin of 30-14.
Play of the Game
With this try in the second half, his second of the game, Alex Johnston became the first player in Premiership history to score 30 tries across multiple seasons. It also turned out to be a crucial strike as the match sat in the balance.
The Sharks await the Rabbitohs next weekend, with the winner advancing to to face the Panthers in a preliminary final. The Roosters meanwhile will head into the off-season battered and bruised, wondering what could have been.