A Jake Granville-inspired North Queensland have claimed three straight victories for the first time this season with a comfortable 23-10 win over South Sydney in Cairns.
Granville scored a try and set up two others to help consolidate the Cowboys' spot in the NRL top eight, while also all-but extinguishing the Rabbitohs' finals aspirations on Sunday.
The win continues an upswing in form for North Queensland, who have now won five of their past six including three on the trot without star halfback Johnathan Thurston.
Their only loss in that time was a one-point defeat in golden point to Melbourne in round 15.
Granville's attacking play was set up by forwards Scott Bolton and Jason Taumalolo, who combined for 300 metres and 10 tackle busts in front of the 11,217 crowd at Barlow Park.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was pleased to see his big men win the forwards battle.
"They're obviously a really big side, it's their strength. It's an area of our game we needed to be good at today and I was proud of the way our forwards matched them through there," he said.
Cowboys skipper Gavin Cooper said the Rabbitohs would be predictable with the ball.
"There's no secret about how they play and having four big boys on the bench today. We knew they'd take us on through the middle and our boys for the most part stood up," he said.
Souths opened the scoring when Adam Reynolds put on two big right-foot steps before putting Cody Walker over in the 13th minute.
However the bright start immediately darkened when Thomas Burgess dropped the ball on the restart and Taumalolo powered over from close range not long after.
That window was all the opportunity the Cowboys needed as Kyle Feldt crossed eight minutes later and Granville set up Coen Hess for his club-leading 11th try of the season.
In the space of 17 minutes, the Cowboys turned a 6-0 deficit into a 10-point halftime lead.
The visitors lost winger Antonio Winterstein with a calf injury moments after resumption, but it failed to turn momentum as Granville scooted over for an easy try in the 45th minute.
A panicked Rabbitohs side then disintegrated with the ball, with 12 of their 15 errors coming in the second period - most of them in their own half.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire was in no mood to discuss his team's effort post-game.
"As you can tell, I'm burning about the game because I know what I have in that changeroom and we're not achieving that at the moment," Maguire said.
"The boys need to find a way to find those performances because what we put out there today doesn't represent us."