South Sydney lost two of their biggest stars before kick-off, but all that mattered was that halfback Chris Sandow remained standing to deliver the Rabbitohs a miraculous 26-24 golden-point NRL win over North Queensland on Friday night.
In the dramatic final moments at ANZ Stadium, Souths hooker Issac Luke stayed down after being hit high by Cowboys replacement hooker James Segeyaro.
The referees hadn't seen the incident but after watching replays, video ref Sean Hampstead sent the message down that Segeyaro should be put on report and penalised - allowing Sandow to kick the Rabbitohs home from 30 metres out, straight in front and keep their finals hopes alive.
It looked like time would beat the Rabbitohs as they trailed 24-18 heading into the final two minutes, before magical halfback Sandow latched onto an intercept off a Johnathan Thurston pass and raced 80 metres.
He was chased down by Matt Bowen and eventually tackled by Ray Thompson, but the Rabbitohs stayed calm and spread the ball to the far left where big Dave Taylor sent Chris McQueen over in the corner, to make it a two-point match.
Despite being heavily fatigued from his intercept dash, Sandow calmly stepped up to slot the conversion from the sideline and send the match into golden point extra time.
Sandow, who is leaving the club at season's end, almost went from hero to villain when a poor kick in the opening set of overtime gave the Cowboys the first real chance - only for Bowen to cannon his attempt into the right upright.
From the next set the Rabbitohs charged up the field to get themselves into field goal range, before Segeyaro was cruelly pulled up for a high shot that Cowboys' halfback Johnathan Thurston yelled at the referee was "a f......ing love tap."
After nine tries in three matches, it seemed no opposition could stop South Sydney star Nathan Merritt, but the dynamic fullback was dramatically brought undone in the warm-up, while Test and Origin game-breaker Greg Inglis was also a late scratching.