South Sydney almost pulled off an NRL robbery on Saturday night with three tries in eight minutes forcing Newcastle to scrap for a 20-18 win at Bankwest Stadium.
The Knights held a 20-0 lead until midway through the second half when the Rabbitohs finally came to life.
Looking down and out, nothing was going right for the Rabbitohs until a try to Mark Nicholls swung the momentum in their favour in the 65th minute.
Two quick tries to Damien Cook got the Rabbitohs within two points to ignite the final seven minutes of the match, which went down to the dying seconds.
"It reminds us how good they can be," a disappointed South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett said following the loss.
"I see it as a group of guys who didn't play for 80 minutes."
When Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce kicked for touch on their final set, time ticked down preventing Souths from packing the scrum to have one final shot at victory.
A whopping 16 errors eventually undermined Souths, who now sit eighth on the ladder but in danger of slipping further by the end of the round.
"We don't train for that, we don't talk about it. Things happen out there and we struggled to get our game together," said Bennett when asked for an explanation for the poor completions.
The win followed a week of criticism for the Knights over their stale attack in recent games, but shone a light on their defensive frailty in the face of momentum.
Days earlier Kalyn Ponga was criticised by Newcastle legend Andrew Johns for not evolving his game, but he helped steer the Knights to the win at both ends of the field.
The 22-year-old ran for 139 metres, scored a first-half try and reignited a lethal combination with rising star Bradman Best on the left edge to propel the Knights back into the top-four.
His safe defence at the back also derailed Souths with the match on the line, but missed conversions remain a problem.
"We expect a lot of him, and he expects a lot of himself," said coach Adam O'Brien of his fullback.
"I thought he was outstanding, right from the start. He had a bit of a look about him this week that pleased me at training.
"In saying that, I thought the team played better in the first 50 minutes, so that's going to help him.
"He's a by-product of the team, it's not just everything on Kalyn's shoulders."
Newcastle's four tries was the most they have scored for a win since their 27-6 win over Brisbane in round six, and comes after the team spent the week focused on improving their attack.
However, the defensive brain fade from Newcastle looms as an ominous sign for O'Brien's team, who have prided themselves on their defence this season.