But as many questions as there are surrounding his Brisbane successor Anthony Seibold and the embattled club, there are a few puzzles still to be solved at Redfern.
Specifically, are the Rabbitohs actually going that good?
To date, they’ve only beaten the Sharks, Warriors, Titans and now the Bulldogs. And they’ve been beaten by every top eight team they’ve played so far this year. They will get a chance to correct the record next week, sitting behind the eighth-placed Tigers by just two points on differential.
But Bennett knows a thing or two about timing and getting it right this year will be as crucial as any.
“We’ve got a fair bit of improvement in us,” Bennett admitted. “It was important we won here tonight and played well. We’ve just got to improve in a couple of areas and winning helps that because it gives them a bit of confidence.
“The next three or four weeks I’ll be in a better position to answer your question because we’ve got some tough games coming up.”
Braidon Burns just cannot catch a break. On a night where he would be happy with the two points and maybe not a whole lot more, Bennett’s centre left the field with a sickening dislocated knee late in the second half. He’d only been on the field for a few sets in place of James Roberts.
“He’ll probably be gone for the season,” Bennett said. “The last three or four years I don’t think he’s finished a season. He’s a 10 out of 10 bloke who tries his hardest for you and is great to have around the club. But it’s the game we play and the risk you take.
“He hasn’t had a lot to say [in the sheds] and he’s in pain. That’s what it is, but it doesn’t make it easy.”
Pay would have felt like it was groundhog day. Next week he will face Seibold’s Broncos and the prize should his team win will be condemning Brisbane to last on the ladder.
“There was a lot more commitment there tonight,” said Pay, who lamented a shoulder injury to Adam Elliott which has the coach fearing the worst.
“The first half was really strong. I thought the 15 minutes after half-time really hurt us. There were some opportunities there to take, but we didn’t really take them. [But] you can’t doubt their commitment and effort.”
The prolific Alex Johnston started the week admitting he will have to leave the only club he’s ever known next year and started the match doing the only thing he’s ever known.
The Bulldogs have a stash to spend in next year’s salary cap – for outside backs, too – and couldn’t have had a closer look at Johnston if they tried.
Slick hands from Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell put the winger into space on the left and he fooled few bar Dallin Watene-Zelezniak when he feigned a kick and then brushed off the Bulldogs No.1.
It took the Rabbitohs another 20 minutes to add to their margin through Adam Reynolds’ penalty goal, but the eight-point buffer was short-lived.
Brandon Wakeham’s deft chip found Marcelo Montoya, who was playing his first NRL game in almost a year, and the Bulldogs only trailed by two points at the break.
Just like the first stanza, the Rabbitohs barely wasted a moment scoring early in the second.
The outstanding Jaydn Su’A latched onto a Reynolds kick inside the first two minutes of the half, but Pay’s men again hit back through Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
It would be the last time they scored though as Cody Walker padded the margin before Dane Gagai’s last-minute length-of-the-field intercept completed a deceptively lop-sided scoreboard.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 26 (Alex Johnston, Jaydn Su’A, Cody Walker, Dane Gagai tries; Adam Reynolds 5 goals) defeated CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS 10 (Marcelo Montoya, Raymond Faitala-Mariner tries; Nick Meaney goal) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Peter Gough.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.