A virtuoso Adam Reynolds performance with the boot has given South Sydney a sorely needed 41-22 NRL win over a lacklustre Warriors outfit in Auckland.
The 26-year-old Reynolds laid on three first-half tries with grubber kicks behind the Warriors’ defence, also kicking a field goal and landing five from six conversions.
The halfback was subsequently hauled off in the 46th minute with a hamstring injury.
The Warriors, who entered the match as strong favourites, drop to ninth on the ladder and will rue missing the opportunity to cement themselves in the top eight.
Souths will take confidence from their performance in what has been a disappointing 2016 campaign.
The Auckland-based side roared out of the blocks early at home, putting pressure on the Rabbitohs with repeat sets of six in the opening minutes.
Centre Solomone Kata opened the scoring for the home side in the sixth minute, barging over from dummy-half before Shaun Johnson nailed the conversion.
However, the Rabbitohs were straight back into the game through a Warriors gift in the 10th minute.
Back-rower Bodene Thompson knocked on in a dangerous position, and Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston took advantage by getting on the end of a Reynolds grubber.
Ten minutes later, the influential Reynolds repeated the trick, grubbering past the Warriors’ defensive line for centre Aaron Grey to put Souths in front.
The Rabbitohs had quickly overturned the Warriors’ early dominance and, with the wind in their sails, added a third in the 26th minute after sustained pressure.
A cut-out ball by Greg Inglis to Grey was flicked on to winger Joe Burgess, who dived over into the corner.
Burgess earned a double four minutes later, getting onto the end of another Reynolds grubber, before Reynolds hit a field goal in the 39th minute.
Inglis then broke through a fragile Warriors defence to score from the last play of the half.
The Warriors came out for the second half re-energised and clawed a try back in the 45th minute when Kata scored his second with an intercept.
But the Rabbitohs restored their lead eight minutes later when centre Hymel Hunt capitalised on a Johnson knock-on to race more than 70 metres to the line.
A Manu Vatuvei try in the 56th minute reduced Souths’ lead again before a pair of Damien Cook penalty goals for Souths settled the contest.
A consolation try for Warriors hooker Jazz Tevaga in the 77th minute made no difference to the final result, with the Rabbitohs taking the two points back to Sydney.