South Sydney Rabbitohs limped to a slender 26-24 victory in Thursday’s NRL clash with Wests Tigers after nearly blowing a 20-point first-half lead at Bankwest Stadium.

The visitors held a commanding advantage with half an hour played but had to hold on at the end of a game that saw three men sin binned in the second half.

Defeat for the Tigers ends their hopes of reaching the finals, while the Bunnies move into fifth and within two points of Sydney Roosters, who play Newcastle Knights on Saturday.

A dramatic contest only looked to be heading one way when the Rabbitohs, beaten 22-16 by Melbourne Storm last time out, racked up three quickfire tries.

Dane Gagai, Corey Allan and Campbell Graham crossed over in the space of 15 minutes, with Adam Reynolds converting all three to help give his side an early 20-0 lead.

The hosts produced a remarkable comeback against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles last week and were at it again when Luke Garner and Tommy Talau dotted down before the interval.

Alex Twal was sent to the sin bin eight minutes into the second half and tempers further flared two minutes later as Gagai chucked the ball at Luke Brooks’ head.

A melee ensued and both men joined Twal in being issued yellows, with the Rabbitohs making the one-man advantage count as Graham raced behind for his second try.

But Brooks scored an impressive try after returning to the field to give the Tigers hope and Asu Kepaoa touched down three minutes later after being played in by Benji Marshall.

Just two points separated the sides for the closing 14 minutes but there was to be no further scoring as the Tigers came up just short.