A late charge has seen the Rabbitohs run away 30-18 winners over the Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium.
They trailed by 12 points heading into the final 10 minutes before three tries sealed the victory and second spot on the ladder ahead of the Roosters and Raiders.
Ethan Lowe, once unwanted as a Cowboy, returned to his former stomping ground to haunt his old club, scoring two tries in the victory.
It was another scrappy win for the Rabbitohs but coach Wayne Bennett will be pleased with his side's goal-line defence as they limited the home side to one try in the second half despite making a mountain of errors.
Cameron Murray led the way for Souths, scoring a try, making over 50 tackles and proving a handful in defence.
His opposite, Jason Taumalolo, put in another barnstorming effort with 252 running metres. For a while it was North Queensland's dominance up front that was the difference.
They entered Saturday night's clash just two points shy of the eighth-placed Knights.
While their season is far from over, it was a disappointing loss against the Burgess-less Rabbitohs.
Adam Reynolds' kicking game was precise and featured early as Lowe pounced onto a pinpoint grubber from the halfback.
Much has been made of the running threat that Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook possesses.
His opposite, Jake Granville, has shown glimpses of the same pace from dummy-half throughout his career but hasn't always backed himself.
When he does, however, he can be hard to stop. And Granville proved to be just that early as he raced through the middle taking the line on inside his own half.
It led to points as he later found Kyle Feldt down the touchline, the winger eventually spinning around to put Tom Opacic over in the corner.
In a seesawing affair Souths were next to strike as a quick play-the-ball from the competition's best Murray caught North Queensland out on the short side. Cook hit a charging Lowe for his second of the night.
The former Cowboy came up with an error soon after to hand possession back to the home side and they capitalised immediately.
Filling for skipper Michael Morgan, John Asiata kicked for Feldt who soared above Campbell Graham to score a spectacular try.
Completing at barely over 60-percent in the first half, South Sydney hadn't learnt from their mistakes as they came up with an error in their first play of the second.
North Queensland once more took advantage, this time Scott Drinkwater pounced after miscommunication from Rabbitohs defenders trying to take a Clifford bomb.
Both sides missed crucial opportunities, Murray Taulagi dropping it with the line open while James Roberts stripped the ball from Drinkwater over the line before also fumbling it.
Eventually Souths set up a grandstand finish when Dane Gagai planted a Reynolds' toe ahead.
Murray then provided the final offload for Tevita Tatola to charge over before scoring in the dying stages.
Souths will aim for their third-straight win when they host the Dragons while North Queensland travel to take on a desperate Sharks side.