The Rabbitohs started poorly, conceding two tries within the first seven minutes of the game. With their first attacking chance Hayden Crowley crossed on the left before Zac Santo tore the Rabbitohs defence apart from 65 metres out before putting Zac Mackay in under the posts.
Mitchell Grimes converted both for a 12-0 lead.
The Cowboys were making plenty of inroads but it was Rabbitohs SG Ball recruit Tulsa Samamao who scored next. After Wil Paterson converted from out wide the Cowboys lead was reduced to six points halfway through the first stanza.
Saumamao was involved again when a big hit to dislodge the ball held the Cowboys out a metre from the line. From the next set Christian Hazard continued his great form, dashing through the Cowboys line to put Tyrone Phillips in for a try. Wil Patersons conversion struck the upright and the Cowboys maintained their two-point lead.
Poor handling was costing both sides but the Cowboys were the first to hold onto it for an extended period. A tidy move down the left side allowed Jack Kelleher space and he took full advantage, diving over for a 16-10 lead. Right on halftime Mitchell Grimes landed his third conversion to take an 18-10 lead into the break.
North Queensland started the brighter of the two sides in the second half but determined defence held them out.
Both teams had early chances in the second half with Hazard once again looking dangerous but poor handling was once again letting down both teams.
Cowboys prop Patrick Kaufusi was on report when a high shot had young prop Cheyne Whitelaw dazed. A melee was sparked and it seemed to be what the Rabbitohs needed. From the ensuing play Hazard kicked across field and Paterson leapt high. He was upside down as he placed the ball for an incredible try. He couldnt convert the effort and the Cowboys maintained their 18-16 lead with 20 minutes to play.
An arm-wrestle continued for the next ten minutes before Cameron McInness snatched the lead for the first time. Paterson missed the kick but he made amends soon after with a terrific escape from the in-goal area with seven Cowboys bearing down on him.
With time ticking away the Rabbitohs looked to have snatched it before a silly penalty gave Mitchell Grimes a set shot from 30 metres out. He landed the kick with just over a minute left to tie the scores.
The Cowboys coughed up possession on the restart and as the siren sounded Christian Hazard shot out to the left, Paterson found space but couldnt hold onto the ball. After the Cowboys scrambled with the ball they ultimately knocked on leaving the scores tied at fulltime.