The Cowboys bolted out of the gates when Norton made a break and Southern finished off near the posts just minutes in and it looked like it could be a long night ahead for the Rabbitohs.
Momentum quickly turned as the Rabbitohs first scored through Brad Watts in the corner and then Mark Minichiello forced his way over with pure strength to put Souths into the lead.
The Rabbitohs continued to dominate but as we?ve learnt in recent years, they have a tendency to self destruct and self destruct they did as Hannay first scored a very soft try and followed it up with a penalty goal to give the Cowboys a surprising 14-10 lead at halftime.
Souths quickly regained their lead and composure in the second half as Bell scored on debut and Carney followed up soon after as the Rabbitohs looked to be on the verge of a big upset.
It was the pocket rocket Matt Bowen that gave the Cowboys a much needed spark with a sensational individual try that brought them back to within two points.
Luke O?Donnell charged over the line minutes later and from there the Rabbitohs caved in as Hannay and Brenton Bowen added further tries before fulltime.
Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Tony Archer
Scorers: COWBOYS 36 Tries: Hannay 2, Southern, M.Bowen, O'Donnell, B.Bowen Goals: Hannay 6/8 RABBITOHS 22 Tries: Watts, Minichiello. Bell, Carney Goals: Williams 3/4
By the clock: 0 min: Kick-off!
1st min: NEWS - The Cowboys have given away a penalty in the first set with Nathan Fien going high.
4th min: TRY - Cowboys Ordinary defence from the Rabbitohs as Norton went through a bit gap, lobbed the ball back on the inside to Bowman who in turn laid it up on a platter for Southern to go over next to the posts. Hannay converts. Cowboys 6-0
8th min: NEWS - It's been a sloppy start from both sides with several mistakes within the opening minutes of the match.
11th min: TRY - Rabbitohs South Sydney went to the short side and managed to keep the ball alive on the last tackle before it finally came out to Brad Watts to dive over out wide. Williams fails to convert. Cowboys 6-4
12th min: NEWS - The Rabbitohs have instantly spoiled their good work with the debutant Roy Bell dropping the ball cold from the kick-off.
13th min: NEWS - Steven Southern has gone from the field after a huge head clash with Scott Geddes left him dazed on the ground.
18th min: TRY - Rabbitohs Mark Minichiello ran from dummy half and battled with three Cowboys defenders before grounding the football. Williams converts. Rabbitohs 10-6
21st min: NEWS - After that great start from the Cowboys, it's the Rabbitohs that have not just turned around the scoreboard but the momentum of this match. They're now starting to play with confidence while the Cowboys look flat.
25th min: NEWS - Tony Archer has laid down two warnings to players and has awarded penalties on a regular basis, a sin binning can't be far away.
30th min: NEWS - The Cowboys are just making simple errors preventing them from taking control of this match, not the charge to the finals they were hoping for at present.
36th min: TRY - Cowboys Hannay scores a very soft try running between two defenders and beating the fullback to score. Hannay converts from the sideline. Cowboys 12-10
38th min: NEWS - The Rabbitohs have dominated the half but are self-destructing in these last couple of minutes with the Cowboys going on attack with repeat sets.
40th min: PENALTY GOAL - Cowboys David Faalogo gave away a stupid penalty right out in front and Josh Hannay slotted the two points. Cowboys 14-10
40th min: HALF TIME The Cowboys got off to a flying start but quickly fell behind on the scoreboard and have looked very average in this match to date. Souths on the other hand had enthusiasm but lacked execution at times and will be gutted to be trailing at the break. Half Time Score: Cowboys 14 Rabbitohs 10
41st min: The second half is underway!
44th min: NEWS - Another mistake from the Cowboys on their own line early in this half. They won't keep their lead for long if they continue to play like they did in the first half.
47th min: TRY Rabbitohs On the back of another Cowboys turn over debutant Roy Bell scored under the posts to hit back for the Rabbitohs. Williams converts. Rabbitohs 16-14
49th min: NEWS - After this woeful start to the second half from the Cowboys coach Graham Murray has immediately made changes bringing on big Shane Tronc.
54th min: NEWS - Luke O'Donnell and Justin Smith have traded several blows in the play the ball area with both being lucky to still be on the field.
55th min: NEWS - The penalties have been flowing in the last couple of minutes with both sides needing to improve their discipline.
57th min: TRY - Rabbitohs David Faalogo got away a brilliant offload that sent Carney away under the posts to extend Souths lead. Williams converts. Rabbitohs 22-14
60th min: TRY - Cowboys A sensational solo try from Bowen as he dummied, stepped two players and fended off another before scoring an important try for the Cowboys. Hannay converts. Rabbitohs 22-20.
61st min: NEWS - That last conversion from Josh Hannay brings up his 250th goal in his career.
65th min: TRY - Cowboys After great work from Michael Luck to charge down a kick and re-gather, O'Donnell charged over under the posts on the next play. Hannay converts. Cowboys 26-22
68th min: TRY - Cowboys Shane Tronc got away a great offload putting Bowen into space and Hannay backing up on the inside finished off the move. Hannay fails to convert. Cowboys 30-22
71st min: NEWS - Ashley Harrison has been put on report for a high tackle on Sargent.
72nd min: PENALTY GOAL - Cowboys Ashley Harrison gave away the penalty and Josh Hannay slotted another two points to add to his personal tally. Cowboys 32-22
76th min: TRY - Cowboys The Rabbitohs are self-destructing, this time making a mistake in trying to clean up a kick and Brenton Bowen was on hand to score another Cowboys try. Hannay fails to convert. Cowboys 36-22
80th min: FULL TIME The Rabbitohs had the match within their grasp but fell apart late in the match as the Cowboys stormed home. Overall though the Cowboys will be disappointed with their performance. Full Time Score: Cowboys 36 Rabbitohs 22
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - J Hannay (Cowboys) 2 - M Bowen (Cowboys) 1 - B Fletcher (Rabbitohs) -----------------------------------------