South Sydney Rabbitohs clinched their top-four spot in NRL with a superb second-half fightback against fierce rivals Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

The Roosters led by eight at the break thanks to Cooper Cronk’s converted score and a try from Billy Smith, but the Rabbitohs ran in 14 unanswered points in the second half.

It marks the first time the Rabbitohs have beaten the Roosters twice in the regular season since 2009 and strikes a potential psychological blow ahead of the NRL Finals.

However, the Rabbitohs will be nervous to find out the extent of an injury to Dane Gagai (hamstring), while Tevita Tatola, Liam Knight, John Sutton and Adam Reynolds all needed to undergo concussion tests during the game.

Defending premiers Roosters started on the back foot and trailed to Reynolds’ early penalty, but good work down the right saw Cronk cross, before Smith – playing just his second game – went over in the 24th minute.

The Roosters were made to pay for failing to take the opportunities they had to add to their total, though, as Campbell Graham took advantage of some lax defending from Latrell Mitchell seven minutes after the restart.

Cody Walker completed a fine team move just two minutes later and a late Reynolds penalty stretched the lead for the Rabbitohs.

The win means the Rabbitohs go third, at least temporarily, and they could face off against the Roosters again next week if Canberra Raiders fail to beat New Zealand Warriors.