Dragons v Rabbitohs: Five key points
St George Illawarra's top eight hopes took a massive hit as two late tries saw the Rabbitohs storm home to claim a thrilling 26-24 win at the SCG.
Worrying times for the Red V
They were meant to waltz into the finals on the back of a soft draw but the Dragons' finals fate is now out of their hands following back-to-back losses to bottom-five sides the Knights and Rabbitohs.
Friday's defeat in particular will hurt given the Red V held a 10-point lead with five minutes to go, only for the Bunnies to strike twice in three minutes to throw the race for the top eight wide open.
The Dragons host the Titans next week and will likely need to win at least three of their remaining fixtures – including a Round 25 showdown with the ninth-placed Panthers – if they want to feature in the playoffs.
"Every game is important and it's been like that for a while, but tonight's loss is as disappointing as last week's," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said.
"The last 10 minutes wasn't up to standard."
Rabbitohs believe again
They headed into Friday night's fixture on the back of a four-game losing streak and with little to play for, but the Bunnies defied their lowly ranking to put in one of their most spirited performances of the season to show their fans there is still plenty of fight left in the 2014 premiers.
"I'm really proud of my players," Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said.
"We've had a tough period and the boys have been fairly honest through that period about how we've been, but I think the boys can take a lot of belief out of all the work they've been doing to this point.
"Sometimes confidence is something that you've got to find and I felt through this week that the boys were able to come together again, they've been challenging each other and they've been working on ways to improve their game."
Reynolds nails the clutch moment
When Bryson Goodwin crashed over at the death to level the scores, Maguire knew the ensuing kick would sail between the posts.
Despite the degree of difficulty, he knew Adam Reynolds – who has slotted 55/61 goals this season – wasn't going to miss.
"I was sitting up there with my two assistant coaches and when it got to that point when Adam was taking the kick, I definitely said 'he'll get this'," Maguire said.
"He's been in those moments many times throughout his career and he's actually nailed pretty well most of them. He's the man you want in that position because he's really good in those moments."
Dugan injured again
If Friday's loss wasn't bad enough, the Dragons could be without star centre Josh Dugan for the next few weeks after he was forced from the field in the 25th minute with what his coach said was most likely a high ankle sprain.
"It looks pretty bad at the minute. We'll have to have a look in 48 hours once that swelling goes down. It's not good at the minute," McGregor said.
The news was much better for Blues teammate Tyson Frizell who came off with a recurring injury late in the game but should be fine to play next week.
His numbers mightn't have been as prolific as we've seen over the years, but the bullocking back-rower provided plenty of impact off the bench as McGregor looked for a way to accommodate the loss of Russell Packer.
"Tyson is still carrying a few leftover injuries from around that Origin period," the coach confirmed.
"We lost Russell Packer so I wanted to go through the power game through that middle third with two bigs. I thought he really changed the momentum of the game when he came on the field. He straightened us up and we got a couple of late offloads which created a bit of a fracture to the 'D' line and we got some benefit on the back of that."
Alex Johnston is a fullback
He's split his time between the wing and fullback, but South Sydney flyer Alex Johnston showed enough on Friday to suggest he should be their No.1 going forward. The speedster scored his side's opening try and laid on a pair of four-pointers in arguably his best game at the back this year. He looked comfortable under the high ball and ran for a game-high 202 metres to all but cement his spot in the No.1 jersey for the rest of the season.