Gold Coast 14 South Sydney 10

Rabbit sigh: George Burgess is upended by Luke Bailey and Beau Falloon.

Rabbit sigh: George Burgess is upended by Luke Bailey and Beau Falloon. Photo: Getty Images

Penalties kept pace with points, both sides finished with near empty benches and the Gold Coast Titans limped to a win thought scarcely imaginable in a whistle-fest at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.

Staring down the barrel of a franchise worst seventh straight loss, the Titans outlasted a battered Rabbitohs - and Ashley Klein's never-ending whistle - to record a 14-10 win to end one of the most forgettable matches of the season.

Gold Coast coach John Cartwright won't care though. It was his side's first win since April 27 as the early season pacesetters at least edged a little further away from wooden spoon territory.

Time
80.00
Team
SOU
Score
10
Team
GCT
Score
14
South Sydney versus Gold Coast
View Match Statistics
Players Keary Tries 1 Tries 3 Players Mead, Zillman, Gordon
Players Reynolds 1/1 (100%) Conversions 1 Conversions 1 Players Gordon 1/1 (100%), Mortimer 0/2 (0%)
Players Reynolds 2/2 (100%) Penalty goals 2 Penalty goals 0 Players
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

And the news just got worse for Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire, who watched on as George Burgess failed to finish his first match since returning from injury and Kyle Turner also hobbled off.

A lame Adam Reynolds, who emerged for the second half when most thought he wouldn't after his record-breaking night, struggled through the second half with heavy strapping on his left knee.

Titans stand-in captain Will Zillman was another who failed to finish the match, which will be remembered for the abundance of penalties. In fact the final penalty count of 14-10 to the hosts was a mirror image of the eventual scoreline.

The 24 penalties in total according to Fox Sports Stats, which slowed to a crawl in the final quarter, were well and truly on pace to usurp the NRL record of 26 indiscretions racked up when Manly and the Warriors clashed in round five of 2006.

The end result will hardly make happy reviewing for Maguire, whose side forfeited the opportunity to haul themselves within two points of the top three sides with a bye on the horizon.

Instead the fourth-placed cardinal and myrtle will have to be content with stalling on 20 competition points for another week - the same tally shared by the 10th-placed Tigers in a crowded ladder.

Luke Keary's return from injury in the halves for the Rabbitohs was overshadowed by Albert Kelly's comeback from the bench for their rivals.

And it was topped off when Kevin Gordon first challenged Alex Johnston off a Daniel Mortimer bomb with 13 minutes left and then swooped on Brad Takairangi's speculator to hand the Titans their first lead. It was all they needed.

Maguire's reassembled cast was easier understood by going through those who actually started in their nominated positions rather than those who didn't.

Only five of Maguire's intended starting side manned the position they were intended to as the Souths coach handed Keary his first NRL appearance this year, recalled Dylan Walker from injury and unleashed all four Burgess boys again.

The Titans also had some relief in the injury front, Kelly returning from a long-standing calf and shin complaint to at least help ease the pain of Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Dave Taylor bunkering down for Origin III.

And they would hardly have been enthralled in Origin camp with a first tedious first half littered with handling errors and a whopping 13 penalties.

Before a wounded Reynolds tried to spark an insipid Rabbitohs in the second stanza, he at least set an NRL record for scoring in all 69 games he has played in since debuting in 2012.

The halfback, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday, can thank Keary for notching the milestone after the Rabbitohs' precocious talent engineered and finished Souths' only four-pointer before the break.

He kicked for Nathan Merritt on the left wing, who was unbelievably allowed to shovel the ball back infield after opposite David Mead didn't contest the bomb, where Keary picked up the scraps to score.

Reynolds' conversion and subsequent penalty goal had the hosts up 8-0 before Mead atoned for the Titans.

Kelly, thrown into the fray early for stand-in five-eighth Maurice Blair, sent Mead on a short dash to the line after the winger had loitered in the middle of the field from a previous play.

Zillman hauled Gold Coast level six minutes after the break after a Burgess double act invited the Titans down the Rabbitohs' end. George Burgess's shoulder collected Mead for the first indiscretion before Luke Burgess collared Matt White high.

There was no surprise in the manner South Sydney reclaimed the lead, a struggling Reynolds potting an easy penalty from in front.

But a dogged Gold Coast, who hadn't known a winning feeling for nearly half a season, clawed their way back into the contest and made South Sydney pay the ultimate price.

GOLD COAST 14 (K Gordon D Mead W Zillman tries K Gordon goal) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 10 (L Keary try A Reynolds 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Gavin Reynolds, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 10,925.