A first half blitz from South Sydney lit up Magic Round to start day two but the side were forced to fend off a thrilling Warriors comeback to win 32-30 at Suncorp Stadium.
Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker was on fire early, putting aside some criticism earlier in the week around his own personal form to deliver three first half tries as the 2021 grand finalists racked up a 26-0 lead.
However, their healthy advantage was narrowed in the second half as the Warriors got into a groove and dominated field position as the Rabbitohs began to lose control of the match.
A try to Jazz Tevaga in the 70th minute got the Warriors back to within 14 points with 10 minutes remaining before South Sydney were forced to defend with 12 for the final six minutes of the game after Damien Cook was sin-binned for a professional foul.
Match: Warriors v Rabbitohs
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Rabbitohs held on, however, to secure their fifth win of the season, in a mixed result for Jason Demetriou, who would be thrilled with the one half by not the other from his winning outfit.
For the Warriors, who were coming off a shell-shocked result against the Sharks last week, their first half fadeout cost them dearly but they'll take plenty away from their second term.
A try to Marcelo Montoya, his second of the afternoon, set up a grandstand finish with a minute remaining but a final 40-metre field goal attempt from Shaun Johnson barely got off the ground.
Walsh nails upright challenge
- South Sydney copped an early blow with Jacob Host leaving the field in the first set of the game after aggravating a shoulder injury.
- A double to Taane Milne inside 13 minutes started the onslaught with the winger benefiting from two right side raids to send him over untouched.
- The Rabbitohs were next to benefit on the left edge with Alex Johnston strolling over via a Cody Walker pass.
- A try to Blake Taaffe extended the visitors' lead before Damien Cook took advantage of a quick play the ball score the side's fifth.
- South Sydney were denied a sixth try through Lachlan Ilias after the Bunnies halfback lost the ball in the greasy conditions.
- The Warriors got on the board with three seconds left before half-time - Marcelo Montoya returning from a four-week ban by going over in the corner.
- Warriors leader Tohu Harris made a successful return from an ACL injury, churning out a solid 30 minutes in his first game since round 18, 2021.
- Former Warrior Kodi Nikorima was injected onto the field in the 56th minute after making a mid-season move to the club last week.
- Rabbitohs forward Tevita Tatola was dominant in the middle with 189 metres for the match. His front-row partner Tom Burgess (147 metres) set a platform for the side throughout the contest.
- The Warriors enjoyed 57% possession in the second half to get back in the contest and almost snatch the result.
Cook can't be caught
Play of the game
The Cody Walker-Alex Johnston combination is one of the best in the game with the Rabbitohs five-eighth sending his winger over with a perfect cut-out pass in the opening half to help set up the win.
Walker waves wand and finds Johnston
What they said
"I thought we had enough points in the bag to hang on but it got nervy for sure, I'm happy the boys held on and got the job done. We've been a bit busted with the flu running through the place. I knew fatigue was going to be an issue late. There's a few things [for the second half], we lost Hosty two minutes into the game and that pushes Jai to an edge. Our middles were under the pump, but in saying that we didn't respect the ball with some poor fourth and fifth tackle offloads." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.
Demetriou: I'm happy the boys got the job done
"It's a good finish, I'm glad we could fight back but our starts, you just can't give sides that sort of lead and make it hard. The second half we did what we spoke about doing. We put a bit of pressure on them. The first half we just made it easier for them. We don't come here to be close or lose by two points so we're disappointed." - Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson.
Ilias finally gets the ball down
South Sydney will remain on the road, travelling to Dubbo to host the Raiders at Apex Oval on Sunday.
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou will need to find a replacement for Jacob Host (shoulder) with Hame Sele a chance to return next week from a calf injury.
The Warriors will turn their attention to a trip to Sydney for a clash against the Dragons, where they'll hope to have the likes of Euan Aitken back from a head knock.