A bevy of missed opportunities by the visitors and the class of South Sydney combined to see the Rabbitohs escape with a 28-10 win over North Queensland at ANZ Stadium in Round 9.
It was a promising start for the Cowboys, who opened the scoring after 11 minutes through Antonio Winterstein to lead 4-0 and looked to have scored another soon after only for the video referee to call Winterstein back after it was deemed Gavin Cooper had knocked on in the lead-up.
Souths responded quickly to the let-off with Sam Burgess crashing over alongside the posts to grab the lead, then added a second in the 26th minute when an Adam Reynolds bomb eventually made its way to Bryson Goodwin who scrambled his way over to make it 12-4.
North Queensland again looked to have scored as the clock ticked down to halftime, but for the second time in the match were on the wrong end of a close knock-on call to have it denied by the video referee.
That miss proved costly too, with Souths first to score after the break when Greg Inglis beat Johnathan Thurston to a grubber to extend the lead to 14 points.
Winterstein eventually grabbed his second try when he leapt highest in the 46th minute to latch onto a Thurston bomb, but after Merritt crossed to extend the lead back to 12, the Cowboys winger was made to rue another missed opportunity when he had the ball dislodged by Adam Reynolds as he dived over in the corner.
Leading 22-10, Inglis then capped the result for the home side as he swooped on a dropped ball by the Cowboys and accelerated through a gap in a 90-metre dash to the line.
Inglis was brilliant for Souths, with two tries, five tackle-breaks and 217 metres to his name, while James Tamou made 155 metres and 24 tackles for the visitors.