South Sydney Rabbitohs subjected North Queensland Cowboys to a second defeat in as many NRL matches.
North Queensland Cowboys fell to back-to-back defeats for the first time since March as they lost 31-18 to defending NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Cowboys missed a chance to move clear of Brisbane Broncos at the top of the ladder when they lost to Cronulla Sharks last weekend and have now squandered a second opportunity, opening the door for Wayne Bennett's men to put daylight between the sides at the summit when they take on St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday.
Greg Inglis powered over after three minutes to put the Rabbitohs on the front foot in what, after a breathless opening, became a tight first half.
Lachlan Coote got on the end of a Justin O'Neil kick to ensure the hosts went in at the interval just a point behind at 13-12 down.
Tries from Jason Clark, Alex Johnston and Dylan Walker contributed to a second-half blitz from the Rabbitohs and saw them into a comfortable 31-12 lead with five minutes left to play.
There was no coming back for the Cowboys, who had been on a run of 15 wins in 16 matches prior to last weekend's loss, but Michael Morgan slipped through the Rabbitohs defence after 78 minutes for a late consolation " Jonathan Thurston adding the extras.
Victory lifts the Rabbitohs to within four points of the leading pair.