Cameron Munster and the Storm were able to withstand Latrell Mitchell's best performance in Rabbitohs colours and score a 22-8 win in Friday night's clash at AAMI Park.
A concerning error count hampered both teams but a committed defensive effort from Melbourne – who were missing Nelson Asofa-Solomona and had Josh Addo-Carr carrying a rib injury for much of the game – was enough to shut down Souths.
Mitchell was heavily involved from early on while Damien Cook was also sharp, particularly in the first half, and rookie forward Tom Amone laid on some heavy shots in a game that also featured a debut for Keaon Koloamatangi.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy handed Brenko Lee a club debut, with the former Titan, Bulldog and Raider spark to the Storm right-side attack, while former Dragons lower-grader Chris Lewis earned an NRL debut at the age of 27.
Olam try seals the win for Melbourne
Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen opened the scoring in the eighth minute after centre Brenko Lee showed quick hands to unleash Suliasi Vunivalu down the right flank with the fullback supporting to score.
The Rabbitohs did well to reassert themselves in the arm-wrestle with Cook sharpening up out of dummy half and Mitchell looking much more determined to assert himself from fullback.
It was that pair who got the visitors on the board in the 17th minute with Cook jumping out of dummy-half to get Mitchell on the front foot, with the latter firing a sublime long-range cut-out pass to put Alex Johnston over in the corner.
Sublime Mitchell pass gets Johnston into space
Souths had the better of the next 15 minutes but the Storm reclaimed the lead somewhat against the run of play when Cameron Munster shredded the Bunnies up the middle of the ruck.
He found a supporting Jahrome Hughes, who got a lucky bounce from a questionable kick for a Vunivalu try in the corner and an 8-6 half-time lead.
Hughes was denied a try by an obstruction call early in the second half while Souths levelled up at 8-8 shortly after via a penalty goal.
The Storm went back two ahead with a penalty goal of their own – and their first goal of the game – in the 57th minute.
An untimely Souths error set the Storm on the attack with 15 to go and a pinpoint Munster kick landed in the lap of an unmarked Josh Addo-Carr and Cameron Smith's first successful conversion of the night put his team up by more than a converted try at 16-8.
Papenhuyzen with the freakish save from kick for touch
The Storm had to soak up a mountain of pressure in their own end after spilling a Souths bomb but turned away three consecutive attacking raids – including a try-saving tackle in the corner from Smith on Dane Gagai – to come away with the ball, their lead intact, and just seven minutes left in the match.
Centre Justin Olam cashed in in the final three minutes as a ragged Souths let another Munster offload create acres of space for his outside men on the left and a 22-8 final score.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett said Mitchell - who busted 10 tackles and made 136 metres with two line break assists (including the Johnston try) - did "some really good things" in his fourth game for the club.
He also looked forward to welcoming back Cody Walker (suspension) and James Roberts (personal leave) for next week's clash with the Titans.
"I've still got a fair bit of optimism we can to where we need to go," Bennett said, though he lamented the horror 65% completion rate and 18 errors.
"We've got a couple of quality players to come back; I'm not looking at it saying 'gee this is going to be a tough season'," he added.
"There's a lot of effort going in and if the effort's there I'm pretty confident we can fix the other part up."