It started with a war of words but in the end South Sydney had the final say after outlasting Brisbane 22-20 in Friday night's NRL grudge match at Suncorp Stadium.
The Rabbitohs moved back into the top four after snapping a three-match losing streak while also landing a blow to the Broncos' finals hopes in a round 23 clash that lived up to the hype.
The stage was set for a blockbuster after an extraordinary lead-up in which Rabbitohs assistant Jason Demetriou and Broncos coach Anthony Seibold traded barbs.
Yet somehow the clash still exceeded expectations.
The Rabbitohs appeared on the ropes when first ex-Bronco James Roberts was sin binned in the 14th minute for elbowing Corey Oates in the head.
The visitors were again on the back foot in the 49th minute when another ex-Bronco Jaydn Su'A was put on report and sin-binned for a high shot on centre Alex Glenn, starting a melee.
Yet the Rabbitohs weren't to be denied, landing what looked like a killer blow, scoring 14 points in a five-minute second half burst.
After a 60th minute penalty that snatched a 10-8 lead, Damien Cook turned the match on its head.
The Rabbitohs hooker set up a 61st minute Cody Walker try before scoring himself three minutes later to blow the scoreline out to 22-8.
Yet the Broncos wouldn't say die.
David Fifita crashed over in the 67th minute for his second try before Kotoni Staggs scored 10 minutes later after a bust by Matt Gillett, who was playing his first game since round 15 because of a back injury.
And they looked like pulling off a stunning win when they regained possession in the dying moments after a Joe Ofahengaue strip, only for Cook to pull off a match-saving tackle on a try bound Oates.
The Broncos have provisionally dropped to eighth with two regular season rounds left.
"Both sides showed a lot of character tonight. Damien Cook was the difference," Seibold said.
"But I am proud of how our guys are progressing. We couldn't have hung in a quality game like that earlier this year."
It was South Sydney's first win at Suncorp Stadium since round one 2015 and they did it without their injured skipper Sam Burgess (quad).
And it also marked South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett's fifth win in 16 games against his previous club - and his fourth straight over Seibold.
Demetriou also had the last laugh after Seibold dismissed his criticism that the Brisbane mentor couldn't deliver in NRL finals, accusing the Rabbitohs deputy of being filthy for missing out on a head coaching gig.
"There was great theatre about the weekend. But what pleased me most was our effort, how we turned up, something we haven't been doing the last few weeks," Bennett said.
Australian Associated Press