North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green and captain Gavin Cooper have spoken with pride about the leadership and maturity shown by the entire team to steal victory from the jaws of the Panthers in the dying minutes of Saturday night's contest.
Without the leading presence of the injured Johnathan Thurston to guide them, five-eighth Michael Morgan stood up with some crucial plays in the second half but according to Cooper the likes of Jake Granville, Lachlan Coote and Scott Bolton were also integral to the victory.
Green was equally proud of the way the Cowboys remained within striking distance of the Panthers and took their opportunities at key moments to turn the momentum of the game.
"Great effort, great character-building win for us," Green said.
"Really proud of the way we hung in there and got the result in the end. A couple of big plays there to get the game so really, really pleased.
"There was a number of big plays at the back end and that's what sort of sparked us, that's what gave us the opportunity. I think Jake Granville probably led the charge there with help from a couple others around him."
The Cowboys will need to show more of the steely determination that was on display against the Panthers if they're to continue to get the job done without Thurston, who won't be back this season due to a shoulder injury. Cooper is confident in his teammates, despite the absence of the champion playmaker.
"There's a lot of talent in our team. Don't get me wrong, 'Johnno' is going to be sorely missed… but we've still got some boys in our team that are pretty special. 'Morgo' really took control at the end of the game when he really needed to," Cooper said.
"It was all little thing that got the job done in the end... it was a big team effort today, our big boys really got us rolling when they came back on. [Jason Taumalolo] in the second half and [Scott Bolton] as well, [Coen] Hess was really good in the second half.
"I could name the whole team really, but when the game came down to it a couple of our more experienced boys stood up."