South Sydney has survived a second half scare from the Wests Tigers to get back in the winner's circle with a 32-18 victory in Tamworth.
Sitting outside the top eight, the Rabbitohs could not have asked for a better start, scoring with their very first touch of the ball.
After the Tigers earned a repeat set on the back of a charge down, Alex Johnston picked a John Bateman pass off in style, racing 70m to touch down under the posts.
Wests were able to hit back soon after, with a ricochet unable to be gathered in, allowing Api Koroisau to level the scores after 10 minutes.
A late Cameron Murray propelled a deep raid into Tigers territory, and was capitalised with a sweeping backline movement on the last tackle 18 minutes into the contest, with a long ball from Latrell Mitchell finding Johnston, who gave it back inside for Isaiah Tass to cross with ease.
The left-side came to the fore just five minutes later, with Damien Cook spotting the short side on the last tackle, with Tass shrugging off a tackle and returning the favour to Johnston to push the lead to eight.
Repeat sets allowed South Sydney to march downfield and they had their fourth try of the night in the 27th minute after Keaon Koloamatangi got on the end of a Lachlan Ilias grubber as the score extended to 20-6.
A couple of near chances to Ilias and Tass kept the pressure on deep in Tigers territory in the shadows of half time, as they took the 14-point advantage into the sheds.
It was the Tigers that came out of the blocks fastest in the second half, with the ball going through the hands and ending up with Isaiah Papali'i inside four minutes.
Just as Wests looked poised to add to their tally, a brilliant try-saving effort from Mitchell denied Junior Tupou from close range to keep the lead at eight.
It was backed up just moments later by a covering effort from Lachlan Ilias after another clean line break from the Tigers, diving on a loose ball metres out from their line.
They used all their chances, with Fonua Pole crashing his way over to bring the score back to 20-18 inside the final 23 minutes.
Three forced dropouts in a row saw South Sydney camped deep in the Tigers half, and they cracked with a trademark swing to the left allowing Johnston to grab his hat-trick in the 66th minute and stretching the lead back to eight.
The vital win was sealed five minutes from full-time with Cameron Murray breaking through the line and running 40m to score under the posts as the skipper helped his team finish the match in seventh spot on the ladder.
Alex Johnston gave the Rabbitohs a dream start with a 70m intercept try in the second minute.
An unfortunate deflection into the arms of Api Koroisau allowed the Tigers to level the scores in the 10th minute.
Isaiah Tass walked over the line after some brilliant lead-up work from Latrell Mitchell and Johnston to give Souths a 10-6 lead through 18 minutes.
Johnston had his second after a powerful charge from Tass to extend the lead to eight.
Lachlan Ilias put a lovely grubber in for Keaon Koloamatangi to convert as the Rabbitohs raced to a 20-6 lead inside 28 minutes.
A creative passage gifted Isaiah Papali'i a try inside the first four minutes of the second half.
Persistent pressure forced the Rabbitohs to buckle with Fonua Pole barging his way over to cut the margin to two with 23 minutes left.
Johnston crossed for his third of the night after sustained pressure to put the Rabbitohs back out in front by eight.
Murray sealed the win in style with a break and dummy inside the final five minutes.
Play of the Game
With the Wests Tigers building momentum while trailing by eight, Latrell Mitchell contains a clean break from Junior Tupou, negating the three on one and forcing an error to maintain the Rabbitohs' advantage in the 54th minute.
A trip west next greets the South Sydney Rabbitohs as they take on the Cronulla Sharks in round 23 action in Perth as part of a double header. The two sides met all the way back in round one with the Rabbitohs getting the spoils in Cronulla.