St George Illawarra and South Sydney battled as top eight outsiders after round 11 defeats delivered significant setbacks to their 2020 finals hopes.
The opening stages of the game were highly physical with multiple players picking up early knocks.
After Tariq Sims put a huge hit onto to Adam Reynolds on the floor, the Souths half-back lost control of the ball.
It was then picked up by Corey Norman who raced 50-metres upfield, palmed off Cody Walker, and pushed a pass to the onrushing Matt Dufty to finish off the break and score.
The injury that Reynolds picked up was serious as the game was held up for a few minutes but walked off the field for a Head Injury Assessment.
Five minutes later, the Dragons crossed again.
Dufty again was involved as he took the ball to the line on the left-edge and whipped a ball across to Euan Aitken, to run around to score under the posts.
St George were on a rampage, as they split the Bunnies open once again.
Dufty received the ball again near the 40-metre line, which caused the defence to shift in, creating space for Aitken to break through the line, and pass back inside to Dufty in support to score his 10th try of the season.
It didn’t take long for South Sydney to get back into the game though.
After a barraging run from Tom Burgess, Damien Cook pushed the ball to Walker, who stepped off his left foot twice to get past the Dragons defence.
Latrell Mitchell converted to make it 16-6.
After half an hour, Dufty had another hand in a try, but not one his own side.
The full-back tried to push a pass out to Mikaele Ravalawa but it was picked off y Alex Johnston who ran 80-metres to score.
The sensational tries just kept coming as Latrell Mitchell released Johnston down the left edge, but was quickly running out of space. He kicked inside for the onrushing Walker, but the bounce of the ball fooled the half-back and the covering St George defenders.
However, Mitchell was not fooled by the bounce, picked up the loose ball, beat the tackle of Tyson Frizell and scored.
The full-back then converted his own try to make it 16-16.
HALF-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 16-16 South Sydney Rabbitohs
The second-half started in a very similar fashion to the first, with big hits, alongside open expansive play.
The one difference though, was that the Rabbitohs scored first after the break.
Cody Walker took the ball to the line, threw a miss pass to Dane Gagai who had just Ravalawa to beat, and with Alex Johnston on his outside pushed the ball out to score.
The Dragons seemed to have equalised just after the 50-minute mark, as Tyson Frizell was the quickest to ground the ball after a Ben Hunt kick, and the try was confirmed after second viewing from the Bunker.
With the scores locked at 20-20 with an hour gone, the game could swing back in any direction.
Once again, the Rabbitohs took the lead as Dane Gagai got to within five metres of the try-line and after a quick play-the-ball Mark Nicholls popped a short ball to Cody Walker to cross for his second of the night.
The Dragons were still looking for a try to level up the game, but Alex Johnston had other ideas as he picked off a pass by Tristan Sailor, and broke away for another 70-metre try for a ten-point lead.
A few minutes later, the Rabbitohs were awarded a penalty after Lomax was caught offside.
This allowed Mitchell to convert from the tee to make it 20-32 with four minutes remaining.
With a minute remaining, Tristan Sailor dribbled a kick along the floor and as grounded by Ravalawa for the try, Lomax knew he had to rush the conversion, and he did, but unfortunately, the ball struck the upright, then the crossbar, and fell short to leave an eight-point gap.
FULL-TIME: St George Illawarra-Dragons 24-32 South Sydney Rabbitohs
St George Illawarra Dragons
Dufty. Pereira, Aitken, Lomax, Ravalawa, Norman, Hunt, Lawrie, McInnes, Vaughan, Frizell, Sims, Ford
Interchanges: Fuimaono, Kerr, Host, Sailor
Tries: Dufty (2), Aitken, Frizell, Ravalawa
Goals: Lomax (2/5)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mitchell, Paulo, Graham, Gagai, Johnston, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Sironen, Murray.
Interchanges: Nicholls, Knight, Koloamatangi, Mago
Tries: Walker (2), Johnston (3), Mitchell
Goals: Mitchell (3/6)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: D. Munro, T. Smith
Video Referee: B. Scott
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)