Michael Maguire describes it as the most special game in his time as South Sydney coach.
But the 34-18 win over the Warriors in Perth on Saturday has left the Rabbitohs facing a worrying injury toll.
The ankle injury to superstar Greg Inglis which has Queensland fans holding their breath ahead of the must-win second State of Origin game claimed most of the attention but winger Bryson Goodwin (elbow) and centre Dylan Walker (thumb) added to concerns.
Somehow the battered Rabbitohs ran in five tries in the space of 18 minutes in the second half to turn a 14-6 deficit into a comprehensive triumph.
Walker put his thumb injury aside to play a starring role in the win and could even contend for a vacant spot in NSW’s outfit for Origin game two if scans clear him of serious damage.
“He was inspirational,” Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said of Walker, who shifted to fullback once Inglis and Goodwin went down.
“Dylan came up with some very special plays in the second half and put us on the front foot.”
The Rabbitohs have now won seven of their past nine matches, putting them firmly in the mix to secure a top-four berth by season’s end.
Although Maguire was thrilled to get the two points against the Warriors, it was the nature of the win that left him oozing with pride.
“It was probably the most special game I’ve been part of with this team,” Maguire said.
“There were times there when people were just off their feet, but they found a way to keep moving.
“We had no bench at one stage. It was a game where we had to fight to the death.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden felt his side missed a golden opportunity to snare a win against a top opponent.
“I thought given the circumstances, they were cherry ripe for the picking,” McFadden said.
“We just lost our way. We went away from our plan.”
Inglis’ ankle twisted awkwardly under the weight of Manu Vatuvei and Sam Burgess in a tackle-gone-wrong and the 27-year-old was on crutches when he returned to Sydney on Sunday with his right foot in a moon boot to avoid any further damage.
Rabbitohs’ doctors initially feared Inglis may have suffered an ankle syndesmosis injury, which would mean at least a month – but more likely two months – on the sidelines.
Even if Inglis is cleared of any major damage, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to recover in time for game two of the Origin series in Sydney on June 18.
Inglis tried to play down concerns over his ankle before he flew out of Perth on Saturday night.
“Ankle should be sweet, so peace,” Inglis said in an Instagram video.