In a golden point thriller, the Wests Tigers held on to win their first game in a month, through a Benji Marshall field goal, to defeat a fast finishing Cowboys outfit 27-26 in Townsville on Friday night.
The long-suffering Cowboys fans had to suffer some more when Marshall landed his field goal, after two misses, in the 84th minute at 1300Smiles Stadium. That was North Queensland's fifth loss at home in eight games so far.
The Tigers led 20-6 at half-time but the Cowboys mounted a comeback with three second-half tries.
The home side will be ruing the penalty try to Michael Chee Kam in the 73rd minute, when referee Ben Cummins ruled the tackle of Cowboys five-eighth Jordan Kahu on the second rower was too high and caused him to drop the ball over the line.
Match: Cowboys v Wests Tigers
Round 14 -
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
It was actually Chee Kam who scored the first points of the game - a try four minutes in - followed by another to his back row teammate Ryan Matterson three minutes later. Esan Marsters converted both and it was 12-0 after eight minutes.
Marshall produced a brilliant 40-20 kick in the ninth minute, the Tigers marching up the field but were unable to capitalise on their field possession.
The Cowboys managed to get themselves out of trouble minutes later and pick up repeat sets, Javid Bowen crossing the line in the 14th minute only to have his foot touch the sideline.
The Cowboys continued to stay deep in Tigers territory and again missed an opportunity to cross the line through Coen Hess, who fumbled the ball in the last second.
Moses Mbye then sprinted 50 metres downfield before David Nofoaluma scored off the next play. A Marsters penalty and the visitors had a handy 14-point lead at the break.
Marshall field goal seals it for Wests Tigers
The tables turned in the second half, the Cowboys scoring first through skipper Michael Morgan just three minutes in. Jake Clifford added the extras and the Cowboys trailed by eight to get themselves back into the game.
But North Queensland were unable to get through this game without adding another player to their growing injury toll - Coen Hess limping off in the 48th minute with a right leg injury.
The Cowboys faithful, however, did have something to smile about minutes later, when Bowen grounded the ball in the 50th minute. Clifford successful in posting a further two points to see the Cowboys trail by just two.
Morgan and Feldt make Wests Tigers pay for mistake
Another Clifford penalty and the game was locked up at 20-all with 23 minutes to go.
The Tigers launched an assault on the Cowboys line with four repeat sets, but were unable to convert that effort into points.
And the Cowboys were not done. Feldt scored off a Morgan cut-out pass with 12 minutes left. Clifford unable to add the extras, the Cowboys leading by four points (24-20).
Moments later it was the Tigers chance to respond after a Jacob Liddle line break found Chee Kam, who dropped the ball over the try line after copping the knock from Kahu. It was ruled a penalty try. The Tigers were back in front by two after Esan Martsers was also successful in converting.
With three minutes to go Corey Thompson was pulled up for a flop. The Cowboys adding the extras to level up at 26-26l and sending the game into a golden point thriller.
After two attempts at field goal, Marshall nailed the third to seal the win.