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Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook.

Wayne Bennett noted that South Sydney "reminded us all how good they can be" with a storming finish against Newcastle but he shared few positives from a 20-18 loss.

The Rabbitohs scored three tries in the last 15 minutes to almost snatch a stunning victory despite an error-riddled start to the contest.

Bennett, who coached his 850th premiership match, wasn't in the mood to discuss whether the final flurry of points would give his side confidence ahead of next week's clash with the Raiders.

"We put an effort in towards the end there and got ourselves back in it," Bennett said from Bankwest Stadium.

"I wasn't impressed with that [first 65 minutes]. Newcastle played well early and put us under the pump a fair bit and we just took a long time to get ourselves back into the game.

"I see it as a group of guys that didn't play for 80 minutes ... They just reminded us all how good they can be."

Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Knights

Asked what switch had flipped to spark South Sydney into action, Bennett said: "Mate, if you can tell me I'd like to know."

He couldn't explain the mistake-laden performance either, with the Rabbitohs completing only 72 percent of their sets and spoiling several opportunities through poor handling.

The Bunnies entered the match with the fifth-worst completion rate in the competition (76 percent).

"We don't train for that, we don't talk about making them, but those things happen out there and we were just struggling to get our game together," Bennett said.

As for where the eighth-placed Rabbitohs go from here?

Re-live the final minutes of Rabbitohs-Knights

"We go to Canberra on Saturday," Bennett said with a wry smile.

The mentor did feel there was some merit in his side's performance. He was satisfied with what his backline - featuring debutant Jaxson Paulo and Corey Allan on the wings - produced in the absence of Latrell Mitchell (suspension) and Campbell Graham (facial fracture).

Alex Johnston moved to fullback to cover Mitchell while Gagai pushed to centre in place of Graham.

"We expect at the club if you come into the team that you can get the job done. You've done all the training that everyone else has done and that type of stuff," Bennett said.

He praised 20-year-old Paulo, who came up with a skilful kick to assist Damien Cook's second try as the Rabbitohs flashed home.

"I think we've found a player there. A future player," Bennett said of the Junior Kiwis representative.