Spiteful night as dirty Bunnies pip Broncos
Wayne Bennett 4, Anthony Seibold 0.
The Broncos' finals hopes hinge on a desperate final fortnight after Bennett returned to haunt the club that sensationally sacked him as his Rabbitohs rocked Brisbane in a 22-20 thriller at Suncorp Stadium.
The pre-match pop and crackle of the NRL's ultimate grudge match delivered on the field as 33,225 fans were treated to a finals-style spectacular riven with desperation, desire and moments of solo magic.
In the end, Bennett's Bunnies prevailed - just - with magical triumvirate Damien Cook, Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds rediscovering their mojo to snap a three-match losing streak and leave Brisbane fighting for their season.
The finish was sheer madness.
Brisbane looked gone at 22-8 after 66 minutes, only to launch a furious fightback, with David Fifita (67th minute) and Kotoni Staggs (76th) crossing to give the Broncos hope at 22-20.
Then came 120 seconds of head-spinning heroics.
With Brisbane launching one final raid, Corey Oates looked certain to score, only for man-of-the-match Cook to produce a sublime scything tackle to cut down the winger one metre short of the tryline.
It was heartstopping and heartbreaking all in one moment of beautiful footballing theatre.
Somehow Souths hung on, giving Bennett his fourth consecutive victory over Seibold to temporarily move the Rabbitohs into the top four on 30 competition points.
By contrast, the Broncos could finish the weekend in eighth spot and they must win their final two games against Parramatta (h) and Bulldogs (a) to be certain of playing finals.
Missing injured enforcer Sam Burgess, it was a gutsy win by the Rabbitohs. They led 8-6 at half-time and were inspired after the break by the penetration of Cook, who set up a superb try in the 62nd minute for Walker before scoring one himself two minutes later for a 22-8 lead.
Brisbane back-rower Fifita was simply incredible in a losing team, scoring two rampaging solo tries, running for 136 metres and making 11 tackle-busts in a brutal performance.
After a week of off-field sniping, the on-field fireworks began instantly when Broncos hulk Payne Haas charged into the Souths line from the kick-off like a freight train.
There was a palpable edge of intensity from the outset and the first eruption came after just 14 minutes. Souths centre James Roberts, playing against his former club, flew across in cover to stop Oates scoring and finished the job with a nasty elbow to the winger's head.
The video referee didn't miss the act of spite, with Roberts placed on report before being sin-binned to the delight of the Suncorp crowd.
They say styles make fights. The grudge match was a glorious contrast of Brisbane's youthful forward firepower against Souths' classy playmaking spine.
In the end, the Broncos were KO'd by the facet that has troubled them all season _ the lack of a consistent, fluid spine.
Brisbane's forward pack were magnificent but when it mattered most, Souths had the playmaking polish to allow Bennett to exact revenge on Seibold ... and flash his crooked grin.
SOUTH SYDNEY 22 (D Cook D Gagai C Walker tries A Reynolds 5 goals) d BRISBANE 20 (D Fifita 2K Staggs tries J Isaako 4 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 33,225.