Sydney Roosters seal gritty NRL win over Rabbitohs

Supersubs Brandon Smith and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves have helped the Sydney Roosters avenge last year's bitter finals loss to South Sydney as they came from behind to down their arch rivals 20-18.

In their first NRL meeting since last September's finals encounter that included a record seven sin-bin offences, the Roosters had to dig deep, overturning a 10-0 deficit at Allianz Stadium to claim a gusty victory.

The introduction of veteran prop Waerea-Hargreaves and hooker Smith, who nearly didn't play on Friday due to an oblique strain, changed the game when Souths were on top.

The 34-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves had the best yardage figures of any forward with 149 running metres and Smith's try helped the Roosters claw their way back into the game.

"We had to hold our cool but they changed momentum," said Robinson.

"But I feel like we dominated from thereon in, there were opportunities around the ruck for 'Jazz' and Brandon.

"It's 'Jazz's' first game back since a long lay-off - he only got five minutes at the World Cup - and Brandon only just got across the line (to be cleared to play).

"It wasn't going to be won in the 20 minutes, but we knew the impact was coming."

Referee Gerard Sutton controlled the contest well and it wasn't until the last five minutes when things started to get out of hand.

Sutton was forced to sin bin Roosters centre Joey Manu and Souths' Michael Chee Kam, who could both face sanction, after a nasty push-and-shove at the death.

Souths fullback Latrell Mitchell, who was playing his first game since being the victim of racial abuse, had flashes of brilliance despite being booed throughout the game.

It couldn't have started much worse for Mitchell's side after they lost prop Hame Sele to a head injury assessment in the opening minute.

But despite the early setback, the Rabbitohs were able to hit the lead through Keaon Kololoamatangi and then increase their advantage when Mitchell sent Alex Johnston in at the corner with a cutout pass.

Souths looked good value for their early advantage, but Robinson rolled out Waerea-Hargreaves and Smith and the Roosters didn't look back.

Smith darted over in the 35th minute and Daniel Tupou crossed soon after to draw the Roosters level.

A Mitchell penalty on the stroke of halftime gave Souths a 12-10 lead at the break but they were left to rue a missed opportunity when Campbell Graham butchered a two-on-one that would have sent Izaac Thompson in at the corner.

"It was the story of our game, we didn't ice our chances we left three or four tries we left out there," said Souths coach Jason Demetriou.

"I think it was seven linebreaks to four and 62 per cent completion rate, but we've got to tidy up our ball control.

"We made way too many errors coming out of our own end."

Former Rabbitohs winger Jaxson Paulo crossed for a late double.

Souths could only offer a response in the last minute, with Thompson crossing when both sides were down to 12.