The South Sydney Rabbitohs have survived a ferocious Sea Eagles comeback to record their sixth win of the season with a 44-40 victory at Allianz Stadium on Monday night.
The match looked to be over with the Rabbitohs in control at 44-20 with under 20 minutes to go, but three tries in the space of five minutes set up a thrilling final 60 seconds that was ultimately thwarted by an error from prop Amoni Tufui.
In a see-sawing battle between the 15th and 16th-ranked sides in the NYC, South Sydney dominated the middle 40 minutes but would have been in panic mode when the Sea Eagles launched their late charge.
Errors and penalties dictated the early exchanges until Manly's Lucas Price finished off some enterprising play down the left edge that included four offloads to dive over in the corner after 11 minutes.
It took just three minutes for the Bunnies to hit back with Brock Gray crashing onto a ball from Liam Coleman to give his side the lead, and the Rabbitohs went further ahead from the very next set when Bailey Shiach-Wise finished off a left-edge bust.
Manly pegged one back in the 25th minute when Nicho Hynes sent backrower Jayden Hocking over, before Gray latched onto a grubber to give Souths a 16-10 lead.
A glut of penalties put South Sydney back on the attack, and lock Keaon Koloamatangi duly took advantage of the field position to barge over before Chad O'Donnell reached out from close range to make it 28-10 at the break.
The Sea Eagles got off to a dream start in the second half with Jaiden Tarrant falling over the line courtesy of a late offload from Hynes, but the 18-point margin was quickly re-established when back-up hooker Phoenix Hunt torched the Manly defence from 30 metres out to score.
Desperate to claim just their third win of the season, Manly hit back as Price touched down for his second, but they couldn't get any closer as Kalani Ili burst through to make it 40-20.
With the game in the bag, Souths delivered the highlight of the evening as Shiach-Wise batted back a chip kick to Keaon Koloamatangi for a brilliantly worked team try to keep Manly rooted at the bottom of the Holden Cup ladder through 20 rounds despite three late tries to Luke Polselli, Treymaine Brown and Billy Bainbridge.
Rabbitohs 44 (Brock Gray 2, Keaon Koloamatangi 2, Bailey Shiach-Wise, Chad O'Donnell, Phoenix Hunt, Kalani Ili tries; Chad O'Donnell 6 goals) defeated Sea Eagles 40 (Lucas Price 2, Jayden Hocking, Jaiden Tarrant, Luke Polselli, Treymaine Brown, Billy Bainbridge, Brad Parker tries; Nicho Hynes 4 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 28-10 Rabbitohs.