Records fell as the South Sydney Rabbitohs prevailed in an all-time classic against the Sydney Roosters to round out the opening week of the finals.
In a match which saw seven sin bins, including two players sanctioned twice, winger Alex Johnston became the first player in premiership history to score 30 tries in multiple seasons as the Rabbitohs bounced back from the disappointment of last week with a 30-14 victory to keep their premiership hopes alive.
In a spiteful opening which saw Victor Radley sent to the sin bin for allegedly punching Taane Milne during a scuffle, the Rabbitohs struck first with Johnston (5th minute) finishing off a left side movement to register his 29th try of the season.
Striking back minutes later through Angus Crichton (10th minute), the Roosters hit the front with Sam Walker delivering a superb cut-out pass from dummy half to send Daniel Tupou (13th minute) over in the corner.
Tempers flared midway through the half after James Tedesco was struck by Thomas Burgess in a tackle that, while not deemed foul play, ultimately ended his afternoon; Burgess and Milne were subsequently sent to the sin bin minutes apart for high tackles leaving the Rabbitohs to play with 11 men during a crucial stage.
Managing to repel their opponents with a reduced defensive line, the Rabbitohs regained the lead with Latrell Mitchell (22nd minute) taking advantage of space created by Cody Walker to go ahead 12-8.
Adding to the Roosters woes during the latter stages of the first half, Crichton was ruled out after copping Burgess' shoulder, while Tupou aggravated a groin injury sustained a fortnight earlier to leave the hosts to play the second half with a one-man bench.
Returning from the sheds with an entirely new backline, departing forward Siosiua Taukeiaho suffered a head clash with Hame Sele, but managed to return to the field later in the half.
Taking their lead beyond a converted try with Walker producing a trademark try-assist, Johnston (48th minute) achieved a piece of history as the only player in premiership history to score 30 tries in a season on multiple occasions.
Securing the victory shortly after Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to the sin bin for a head slam on Burgess, Walker produced a superb kick to send Jai Arrow (51st minute) over for a rare four-pointer.
The Roosters refused to surrender and capitalised on an error from the kick-off with Nat Butcher (54th minute) pouncing on a grubber by Keary, but tensions continued to boil over with Tevita Tatola and Radley (his second) sent for ten following an all-in scuffle.
The Rabbitohs were forced to play with 11 men for the second time in the match after Milne was binned for a high tackle, but it did little to deter the victors with Isaiah Tass (72nd minute) throwing a show-and-go close to the line to seal the result.
Next week, South Sydney will face Cronulla on Saturday evening at Allianz Stadium in the second semi final.