Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire was pretty upbeat despite his side's 30-0 loss to the Roosters on Friday night, insisting a second-half improvement to keep the runaway minor premiers scoreless in the second stanza shows what his side are about.
Maguire also looked forward to welcoming back captain Greg Inglis for what will be a must-win elimination final against either Cronulla or Canterbury.
"The second half was a massive improvement on what I've probably seen over the last little period," Maguire said after the game.
"I thought there were periods in that second half where we showed what the boys have built this club about, which is their defence."
Stand-in fullback Alex Johnston produced one try-saver when he knocked the ball from Jackson Hastings' grasp as the Roosters half went to ground the ball for a try. A team chase from a Roosters line break eventually saw Chris McQueen bring Mitch Aubusson down short of the line to save a try, before he was sin-binned for a professional foul for holding down. But the 12-man Rabbitohs held firm for the 10 minutes he was off the field.
"There was a lot of scramble, there was a lot of inspirational plays, there was players having to get up off the ground playing a lot of time there due to 12 men and they were able to find that spirit that this club has been renowned for," Maguire said.
"From a point of view of the game I was pleased with the second half so we'll take that into the next period of the season. Obviously the first part of the season is done, 26 rounds is now finished, we've put ourselves in a position to be in that top eight."
With the top two sides, the Roosters and Broncos, currently looking a long way ahead of the opposition, Maguire insisted all sides are equally placed with the final stage of the season set to commence.
"[We're positioned] pretty well exactly where everyone else is. Eight teams left, there's an opportunity in front of every team that plays over this next four weeks," he said.
"You look at the season, everyone starts off scratch, teams come in with expectations and all sorts of different things and they get to Round 26 and then eight teams leave us."
Maguire also ran the rule over a few of the other finals sides that he suggested had surprised in 2015 for varying reasons.
"You look at certain teams, I mean the Roosters, they're currently shooting for records at the moment, they're a chance of 15 straight wins, who would have thought that at the start of the season [when they lost four straight]?
The Broncos had initially thought on coach Wayne Bennett's return this year that their hopes of returning to premiership material would be a three-year project, while current top-four candidates Cronulla are coming off a wooden spoon in an injury- and ASADA-wrecked 2014, Maguire added.
"I could go around all sorts of teams but whatever's happened to this point now is part of what you take moving forward, you take the good things out of it then you go about your footy," he said.
"I've got a team in there that has a lot of belief around themselves and if that belief keeps taking us forward it's about what we do this week.
"You use those things that we did in the second half, finding little plays, Alex Johnston, he did a cracking try saver there and there was plenty of effort there when we had 12 players. That's the sort of stuff you look for over this period now. We'll take that forward."