The Rabbitohs recovered to record a stunning semi-final win despite losing two outside backs to HIAs followed by their captain, but their coach Wayne Bennett was still having trouble processing the match afterwards.

Down 26-20 and with Alex Johnston and Adam Doueihi ruled out and no interchanges left, a crucial sin bin to Manly lock Jake Trbojevic opened the door a crack and Souths kicked it open to surge to an unlikely 34-26 win with forwards in the backs and a near-empty bench.

Bennett admitted to not being sure which position players were moved to and regaled reporters with an anecdote about giving his team a spray for trailing at half-time having missed Cam Murray's go-ahead try right before the break.

He also got two of his own players' names wrong, referring to Murray as Campbell Murray and Ethan Lowe as Jaiman Lowe (a one-time Souths prop who retired in 2012) .

"I don't know what I'm thinking. I'm all over the shop," Bennett shrugged at the beginning of his post-match presser.

"We knew two of them weren't coming back so they get taken up in your interchange. It was pretty gutsy in the end what they did and the way they stayed at it.

"We had Gagai at fullback, Cam Murray in the centres, Damien Cook on the left edge, another, the name escapes me on the right in the right centres, Jaiman Lowe. Ethan sorry. He's done that for us this year but that's a pretty scrambled team and we scored our best tries and played some of our best football. It's crazy.

"Maybe I should have done that in the beginning. We had Campbell Murray, I think Campbell Murray must have finished on the wing. I don't know where he finished up. I'm serious, they work it out themselves in the end, they have to."

Embracing the chaotic nature of the contest, Bennett relayed his half-time speech mishap as well.

"I left the box with about 10 minutes to go before half-time when they got the penalty right on the try line and I was pretty filthy so I had another speech prepared, that was the losing one," he said.

"I got down there and conducted half-time and I didn't know we'd scored a try so I'm talking like we're losing because I think we're four points behind, I think it's 16-14, that's honestly what I believed.

"Anyway [assistant coach] Jason [Demetriou] said a couple of things and he kept talking about the three tries we scored and I'm thinking 'we've only scored two, he's miscalculated'.

"So I gave them the half-time 'we're behind' speech, 'make sure we're in front at the end of the game' and I walk outside and Sam [Burgess] grabs me and says 'hey coach, do you know we're leading' and I said 'piss off Sam what are you talking about'.

"He said 'coach we're leading 18-16'. I had no idea we'd scored, no idea at all. So I changed the speech again very quickly, I started clapping and cheering and said 'we're in front boys let's stay in front'!"

On one of the rare serious notes from the presser, Bennett was asked about Manly coach Des Hasler's assertion the Sea Eagles were dudded by the Trbojevic sin-bin ruling when the Manly lock appeared to grab the jersey of Dane Gagai as Gagai supported a line break in a try-scoring situation.

"They've been on it all season about pulling guys back or taking guys off the ball," Bennett said.

"We've seen a lot of sin bins this year for it. I didn't have a problem with the Cody Walker one (being sin-binned for a slap on Jack Gosiewski), I didn't have a problem with their sin bin.

"As teams and players you know it's on the cards these days, the sin bin's been used a lot more this year than any other year, I'm not opposed to it. You roll the dice. If you don't touch the player, if you don't run the interference you've got nothing to worry about.

"Being totally candid I'd say we both got tough calls out there. We got beaten up big time in the play-the-ball area. Numerous times I thought we should have got penalties. I think it went both ways to be honest with you."