Raiders v Cowboys: Five key points
The talking points from North Queensland's 11 consecutive win, a one-point thriller over the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday.
Raiders offside, according to JT
He was the man to (eventually) hand the Cowboys a thrilling victory, but it shouldn't have come down to a third field-goal attempt according to Johnathan Thurston.
After having two field goal attempts from in front of the posts charged down in the game's final minute, the champion five-eighth said the Raiders' defensive line was jumping the gun.
"Third time's the charm, we got there in the end but I didn't think the [Raiders] boys were onside," Thurston said.
"I don't know if the boys were onside there when it becomes pretty frantic in that last minute and a half when the scores are level."
Raiders will be better for their run
The Raiders are surprising many with the form they have showed so far this year but they still have a long way to go to match it with the best teams in the Telstra Premiership.
"We'll get so much out of that game as a footy team," Ricky Stuart said after the tough loss.
"I'm disappointed for the players because they're broken hearted because of the effort they put in. They won't understand right at this moment but we'll get so much out of that."
Canberra captain Jarrod Croker echoed his coach's sentiment despite being devastated with the last-minute loss.
"It's extremely disappointing but well get a lot out of it," Croker said.
As usual, Stuart refused to criticise his players, insisting he was as proud as ever with their efforts.
"I said two months ago that I was a proud coach of these guys and I'm even prouder after that effort," he said.
Cowboys' Origin stars lead the way
It's the time of year when star players have more than enough reason to take a week off, or at least take their foot off the pedal.
However, for the Cowboys, their big players did the opposite, stepping up to lead a spirited effort by North Queensland – with Origin players Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou standouts for the winners in Canberra.
"I was really proud of the way they came back," Paul Green said.
"The attitude they have when they come back it shows they care a lot about the team.
"Origin's obviously massive and it's a great thing to be part of but you can really tell with our blokes that when they get back in amongst us that they care quite a lot about the team… it was a huge effort.
"I thought those three Origin boys in particular today really showed what being a professional rugby league player is all about."
Canberra's backs helping their big men
The Raiders' outside backs were put on notice this week following the mid-season pickup of Joseph Leilua.
And against the Cowboys they showed their coach how much their position in the Raiders backline meant to them.
Croker singled out his back three for their efforts making the tough metres out of their own end of the field.
"Having guys like Jackie [Wighton] and Jordy [Rapana] and Eddie [Lee] bring the ball back is like having an extra forward sometimes," Croker said.
"And sometimes Jacko can make one or two hit-ups a set. It's handy for the big boys and it's working well for us."
Granville more than a bit-part player
Hooker Jake Granville showed once again that he's more than just a stop-gap player in a star-studded Cowboys team.
In a year where he has marked himself as a genuine first-grade talent, Granville had another big game against the Raiders, picking up the playmaking slack in the absence of Michael Morgan.
"He forced the error that got us the scrum that eventually got us the win," Cowboys coach Green said.
"He also set up the try for Wrighty [Matthew Wright] there as well.
"I've been involved with Jake for a number of years and I'm really pleased for him.
"He's got his chance at this level and he's certainly taken it this year, he's been outstanding for us."