The Melbourne Storm are one step closer to being the first team to claim back-to-back premierships in over 20 years after they outlasted the South Sydney Rabbitohs 29-28 in a thriller in front of over 17,000 fans at AAMI Park.
While the crowd for Friday night's game may have been disappointing, the spectacle certainly wasn't as Melbourne held on to earn a much-deserved week off.
The Storm made their intentions clear in the opening minutes of the first half when Billy Slater steamed onto a Cameron Munster grubber in the 2nd minute. It was a miraculous effort from the star fullback as he grounded the ball with just one hand but he was denied after the video officials ruled he planted it on the dead-ball line.
After weathering early pressure, South Sydney crossed over first when Dane Gagai scooped up a loose ball off a Crossfield kick to score out wide.
Having never won in Melbourne before, the Rabbitohs opted for the two points moments later as they eased the nerves and shot out to a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
They were enjoying plenty of opportunities early and Sam Burgess almost surged over in the 15th minute to extend their lead, only to drop the ball short of the line.
It was a troubling start for the Storm, who were already on the wrong end of a rampaging Rabbitohs outfit when the two sides met earlier in the year.
Yet the home side quickly hit back in the 22nd minute when a cut-out pass from Cameron Smith created an overlap out wide and Curtis Scott streamed over to lock things up.
Minutes later South Sydney regained the lead courtesy of another penalty goal but the Storm soon reclaimed momentum when Billy Slater put Suliasi Vunivalu over in the corner.
Friday night's game was a seesawing affair, with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions and the Rabbitohs quickly held ascendancy once more when Robert Jennings sliced over.
But just as it looked like South Sydney would be heading into the sheds with the advantage, a brilliant break by Brodie Croft saw the halfback kick ahead for Vunivalu who steamed onto the ball and put Melbourne back in front.
The Rabbitohs were placed under immediate pressure early in the second half when George Burgess was sin-binned for interference on a kick chase but they held on to only concede a penalty goal.
And they were rewarded for their resilience when some Greg Inglis magic in the air saw them post their third try of the night.
Suddenly it was the Rabbitohs who looked the more likely of the two as Jennings bagged a double off a spectacular flick pass from Inglis in the 63rd minute.
Yet the Storm immediately locked things up when Cheyse Blair sliced over three minutes later.
In a game full of momentum swings, a forward pass from Josh Addo-Carr deep inside his own half gifted South Sydney field position and they capitalised when Cameron Murray surged over.
As expected, there was more in store, with Addo-Carr redeeming himself when he sprinted down the touchline minutes later to kick inside for Blair who had a late double.
A 77th minute field goal from Cameron Munster sealed the miraculous victory as the Storm held on for a tense 29-28 win.
It means that Craig Bellamy's side are just one game away from another grand final appearance. Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs will host the winner of the Broncos versus Dragons clash next week in a do-or-die fixture.