The Melbourne Storm have all but secured the 2019 minor premiership after downing the South Sydney Rabbitohs 26-16 at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Scoring four tries to three in a highly anticipated top four clash played before 19,533 supporters, the win sees last year's runners up sit six points clear atop the premiership ladder with four rounds remaining.
Facing off for the first time since claiming a thrilling 29-28 qualifying final victory last year, the Storm started in fine form with Jesse Bromwich (5th minute) crashing over underneath the posts to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
Adding a penalty goal a few minutes later, the visitors continued keeping pace with the clock as Papua New Guinean international Justin Olam (12th minute) continued his strong form to bag his third try of the season.
Benefitting from a steady stream of penalties, the Rabbitohs worked their way back into the contest with Campbell Graham (25th minute) touching down following a well-timed pass from stand-in centre Kyle Turner.
Opting to get back within a converted try via an Adam Reynolds penalty goal (32nd minute), the Rabbitohs showed great tenacity to head to the sheds down 12-6.
In a major turning point of the match, Felise Kaufusi was sent to the sin bin for pushing Cody Walker into the goal posts three minutes into the second half.
Taking advantage of their 12-man opponents moments later, Graham (45th minute) bagged his second to level the scores at 12-all following Reynolds' sideline conversion.
With the game tilted on a knife's edge Cameron Munster (60th minute) stepped up on the hour mark with a brilliant display of footwork to put the visitors up by a converted try.
Going out beyond a converted try with Cameron Smith (66th minute) adding a penalty goal, debutant fullback Nico Hynes looked to have secured the win with a superb pass only for Suliasi Vunivalu to put a foot on the touchline in the act of scoring.
Setting up a grandstand finish with Graham (72nd minute) bagging his first career hat-trick, Munster produced a pinpoint grubber for Brodie Croft (76th minute) to secure the 26-16 result in the final moments.
Next week the Rabbitohs host the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, while the Storm return to AAMI Park for a top four clash against the Raiders on Saturday evening.