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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have kept their top-four hopes alive with a 22-20 win as tempers flared against the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night.
The coaching staff had their say for both sides during the week in an intense war of words that set the stage for a heated exchange at Suncorp Stadium.
And that feeling transferred onto the field as both former Broncos James Roberts and Jaydn Su'A were sent to the sin bin.
Roberts found himself binned in the 14th minute for elbowing Corey Oates in the face after taking him into touch with Su'A given his marching orders early in the second half for a similar infringement.
But the ten-minute period worked against the home side, with Brisbane panicking and unable to break through for the opening try of the game.
Even after Payne Haas broke through in similar fashion to that last week against Penrith, Darius Boyd chose to hold onto the ball and take the tackle with an overlap on the outside.
They then conceded a penalty and Adam Reynolds booted two points. Then, just as Roberts returned, the Rabbitohs sliced through to score.
The change in momentum coincided with Damien Cook finding space in the ruck, with the nifty hooker scheming out of dummy-half to put Souths on the front foot.
He then found John Sutton who turned it back inside for Cody Walker and Dane Gagai was backing up in support to score.
The Rabbitohs were well and truly on top until David Fifita burst through off a short ball from Sean O'Sullivan to run away for a brilliant individual try, reducing the deficit to two at the break.
O'Sullivan put in a strong performance in place of regular halfback Jake Turpin, with a try-assist, two line-breaks and 37 tackles.
With Turpin and Darius Boud not traditional halves, another impressive effort from the youngster next week could create serious headaches for coach Anthony Seibold.
Souths did well again to hold on when Su'A was sent for ten, with both sides kicking penalty goals before the second rower returned.
And the Rabbitohs turned it on once more minutes later, Cook again threatening out of dummy-half before finding Reynolds inside and the halfback put through a kick for Walker to pounce.
They then went back-to-back as Gagai burst through and found Cook trailing back inside to race away and score.
Brisbane got it back off the short restart though and Fifita powered over shortly after to set up a thrilling finish.
Matt Gillett, in his first game back since Round 15, broke through an attempted tackle from Walker to put Kotoni Staggs over next to the posts.
The Broncos looked destined to steal victory late as Oates surged towards the line but an inspirational tackle from Cook stopped a certain try to win the game for Souths.
Brisbane will look to keep their top-eight hopes alive next week when they host Parramatta while Souths travel across the ditch to take on the Warriors.
Brisbane Broncos 20 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 22
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Halftime Score: Brisbane Broncos 6 South Sydney Rabbitohs 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Damien Cook
2 points - David Fifita
1 points - Payne Haas
BRISBANE BRONCOS (20)
Tries: David Fifita (2), Kotoni Staggs
Conversions: Jamayne Isaako (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Jamayne Isaako (1/1)
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (22)
Tries: Dane Gagai, Cody Walker, Damien Cook
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Adam Reynolds (2/2)