In Melbourne, Richmond’s late charge for the AFL finals survived an almighty challenge from Essendon before the Tigers proved good enough to hang on for a sixth straight win.
In a physical and often spiteful encounter, the Tigers stood tall in a dramatic final term to prevail 14.11 (95) to 11.11 (77) at the MCG on Friday night.
This was the sort of win relished by fans, with most of the crowd of 58,024 staying behind to sing the Richmond club song.
Trainers threw their water-bottles in the air after Ivan Maric kicked an after-the-siren goal to prolong the euphoria.
Their sixth consecutive victory was hard earned, led by the unlikely duo of Anthony Miles and Brandon Ellis.
Richmond had their noses in front for much of the match but two goals in a minute in the last term from Dyson Heppell and Jake Melksham brought the Bombers within a goal.
But the Tigers hung tough to match a club winning streak of six matches for the first time in 19 years.
In the NRL, South Sydney revived their minor premiership hopes and left Manly licking their wounds after a bruising top-of-the-table clash at the SCG.
Inspired by a storming performance from Sam Burgess, Souths closed to within two points of the competition lead with an emphatic 23-4 victory on a Friday night to forget for the Sea Eagles.
Manly lost backline enforcer Steve Matai inside five minutes, the New Zealand Test centre suffering an apparent dislocated left shoulder in a suspect tackle from Souths pair Issac Luke and George Burgess.
Luke and Burgess are likely to come under match review panel scrutiny for a chicken wing tackle that left the Eagles with just a three-man bench for the bulk of the game.
Returning from an ankle injury, winger Jorge Taufua limped through the second half in another worry for Manly a month out from the finals.
Souths lost back-rower Kyle Turner to concussion in the first half but, with Burgess nigh unstoppable, still rode roughshod over the Eagles in an ominous display that should have super coach Wayne Bennett eating humble pie.
It was Bennett who claimed after Souths put his Newcastle side to the sword on Sunday that the Rabbitohs couldn’t win a premiership with their predictable power game.
On that basis, Manly won’t either after simply having no answers to the Rabbitohs’ strength and power.
Elsewhere, NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds lashed out with an extraordinary trip on former teammate Ben Barba as Canterbury slumped to their fourth straight loss, a 41-10 thrashing by Brisbane.
Reynolds was lucky not to be sent off but his indiscretion, the second time he was put on report in the second half, capped a night to forget for the State of Origin playmaker and the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium.
But at the end of a long rap sheet for the five-eighth, he still finished the game in the sheds after being sin-binned for a high tackle on Alex Glenn.
The Broncos, led by Barba and Ben Hunt, punished the mistake-riddled Dogs seven tries to two in front of a highly-appreciative crowd of 28,344.
Desperate to stop the rot after five losses from their past six matches, Brisbane resurrected their finals hopes in style while at the same time delivering a major dent to Canterbury’s top-four claims.
Reynolds’ availability for next Friday’s clash with Parramatta is in grave doubt while Sam Kasiano also suffered a worrying foot injury.