It is almost a year to the day since South Sydney became just the second club in premiership history to record 1000 wins, downing North Queensland 20-16 at ANZ Stadium. But it didn’t all go to script, with the home side almost blowing an early 20-0 lead.
The Rabbitohs shot out of the blocks with Greg Inglis crashing over following a tidy backline play in just the second minute. Eight minutes later it was Issac Luke’s turn to punish North Queensland with a typical dummy-half dart seeing him plant the ball for a 12-0 lead.
An Adam Reynolds penalty goal extended the lead beyond two converted tries and although Nathan Merritt was denied when he spilled the ball centimetres above the turf, Dave Taylor ensured the Rabbitohs kept pace with the clock as he barged over between the posts to make it 20-0 midway through the opening half.
But after holding on until the halftime break, it was a different Cowboys outfit that emerged for the second 40. James Segeyaro kicked off proceedings with a dummy-half burst shortly after the break and the gap had closed to eight in a flash once Ashley Graham reached out in the 53rd minute.
Graham scored his second with five minutes remaining to ensure a thrilling finish but Souths held on to score a crucial win.
Surprisingly, North Queensland edged the majority of the stats with 51 per cent possession and 41 completed sets to 36. They also produced 15 offloads to just two from Souths but their lack of first-half points came back to bite them.
The big guns came out to play for Souths with Inglis running for 180 metres and making eight tackle-breaks and Taylor also adding eight tackle-breaks to go with his 166 metres.
James Tamou was superb for the visitors with 173 metres and 36 tackles.