Two tries in the final five minutes have seen St George Illawarra suffer a late 26-24 loss to the Rabbitohs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.

Jason Nightingale scored his 13th try of the year in the 10th to start the scoring proceedings for the Dragons.

Alex Johnston hit back for the Rabbitohs only five minutes later, which was followed by Damien Cook in the 23rd minute after he forced his way over the white stripe.

Cook's try came with a double whammy as Dragons centre Josh Dugan went off – and failed to return – due to an ankle injury.

Dragons back-rower Joel Thompson helped level the scoreline when he leaped above the rest to pluck a McCrone kick from the air for his seventh try of the year.

The Rabbitohs suffered a blow of their own when skipper Sam Burgess was sin-binned for tackling Tyson Frizell off the ball – Gareth Widdop kicked a penalty goal as a result.

Following a wild exchange of passes, and another McCrone kick, Kurt Mann was able to score right on half-time to push the Dragons' lead out to 18-12.

Souths halfback Adam Reynolds opted to kick a penalty goal in the 45th minute to put his side back within four points.

Slick hands from Matt Dufty and Mann put winger Nene Macdonald over in the 70th minute to extend the Red V's lead out to 10 points.

John Sutton reached over to plant the ball on the white stripe in the final five minutes before Bryson Goodwin helped level the scores in the corner in the final three minutes.

A Reynolds penalty goal from the sideline put the Rabbitohs ahead by two points with two minutes remaining – a lead they would hold on to by game's end.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 26 (Alex Johnston, Damien Cook, John Sutton, Bryson Goodwin tries; Adam Reynolds 5 goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 24 (Jason Nightingale, Joel Thompson, Kurt Mann, Nene Macdonald tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals) at Sydney Cricket Ground. Half-time: Dragons 18-12.  Crowd: 12,312.