It wasn't pretty at times, but South Sydney claimed a crucial 26-14 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons at Barlow Park, Cairns.
Desperate to end their Australia-wide road trip on a winning note after a couple of disappointing performances, the Rabbitohs needed a win to move back into the top eight.
With a strong opening required to set the tone, they started by posting first points in the 11th minute with a backline passage from one end of the field to the other capped off by quick hands from Latrell Mitchell to Alex Johnston for the winger to cross untouched.
They looked to have their second soon after, only to be denied by a late call of a forward pass from the touch judge disallowing Isaiah Tass a try.
An errant goal-line dropout from the Dragons gave the Rabbitohs a gift two points soon after, which they gladly accepted to make the lead 8-0.
The gift was returned on the next set, with an error from the kick-off giving the Dragons great field position, which they capitalised upon through Mikaele Ravalawa.
They were in danger of finding themselves behind after three penalties and set restarts back-to-back, but South Sydney's defence held solid to keep their noses in front.
It was St George Illawarra that had the last chance of the half inside the final two minutes, before Mitchell pulled off a strong one-on-one tackle to ensure they held an 8-4 lead after a scrappy first half.
While their first 40 wasn’t anything to write home about, South Sydney started the second in electric fashion. Lachlan Ilias forced an error from a bomb, and they needed just one play from the scrum to make them pay with Cody Walker putting Campbell Graham into a gap to score with ease inside the first three minutes.
All that good was immediately undone with another dropped ball from the kick-off allowing the Dragons to score through Ben Hunt and immediately bring the deficit back to four.
The topsy turvy nature of the game continued with Mitchell producing one of the plays of the season.
The fullback rose for the contest off a bomb, taking clean possession and putting a miracle pass onto the chest of a flying Cody Walker to touch down under the posts and again put his side in front by 10 with 28 minutes remaining.
A long break off a stray Ilias pass saw the Dragons march upfield, and they took full advantage to finish the set with Tyrell Sloan touching down to bring the score to 20-14 inside the final 13 minutes.
The win looked within their keeping after Tass and Johnston combined for a 60m effort, turning the Dragons defence inside and out in the process to secure their biggest lead of the game at 12 and just eight minutes left to play.
South Sydney got the scoring underway with Alex Johnston capping off a sweeping move to score in the 11th minute.
An error from Souths allowed Mikaele Ravalawa a gift try to bring the score back to 8-4 through 20 minutes.
The Rabbitohs started the second half strong with Cody Walker putting Campbell Graham into a gap to score and extend the lead to 14-4.
Another kick-off error allowed the Dragons hit back immediately through Ben Hunt to erase Souths' try.
A piece of Latrell Mitchell brilliance saw him come down with a bomb and find a flying Walker to extend the lead to 10 again.
Tyrell Sloan kept the Dragons alive, scoring to bring the margin to 20-14 with 13 minutes left.
Isaiah Tass and Johnston combine to give the winger his second of the day and Souths an imposing 12-point lead entering the final eight minutes.
Play of the Game
With the game in the balance, a piece of individual brilliance from Latrell Mitchell to get on the end of a bomb and unloading an offload in the same passage to put Cody Walker over under the posts and give the Rabbitohs a handy lead with less than half an hour to play.
A must-win game greets the South Sydney Rabbitohs as they return to NSW for their final two games of the regular season. They will face off with a red-hot Newcastle Knights side on Sunday with both teams looking to sure up a finals spot.