A 74th minute field goal by North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote has helped his side claim a 23-18 win over his former team Penrith on Saturday night.
The loss for the Panthers, in front of a crowd of 13,725 at Pepper Stadium, continues a topsy-turvy trend where each of their games in 2016 has been decided in the final ten minutes.
For the Cowboys, it is the first time the reigning premiers have registered consecutive wins this year.
Penrith halfback Jamie Soward spurned an opportunity to level the game in the 77th minute, feigning a field goal and went left, only for Josh Mansour to be pushed out.
Soward also just missed a 45-metre attempt in the 79th minute, before Kyle Feldt sealed the win with a try on the buzzer.
Two tries to Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, including one in a 90-metre movement, gave the home side a 10-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
But the Cowboys responded through Javid Bowen and Justin O’Neill to take a 12-10 advantage at the break.
The Panthers regained the lead through Trent Merrin in the 54th minute, however the Cowboys pulled all the right stops in the closing stages to tally their fourth win of the season.
Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott was put on report for a crusher tackle on Merrin in the second half.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was proud of his team for twice overcoming leads, particularly in the second half.
“We showed a lot of character to come back from where we were and win the game at the end,” he said.
“They had all the field position, particularly in that first part in the second half. We were camped on our own tryline for the majority of that half.
“(But) we defended really well and showed composure to get ourselves back in the game and get the win.”
Both Panthers coach Anthony Griffin and captain Matt Moylan were frustrated with their inability to close out games when holding a late lead, but were otherwise encouraged by going toe to toe with the premiers.
Griffin pointed out that they were close to defeating both last year’s grand finalists in the past month, having pipped Brisbane by one three weeks ago.
“I thought we played with a real purpose and energy and they’re a really strong group together now,” he said.
“We went within ten minutes of beating the two grand final teams last year in the last month. In the short term, the results aren’t coming, but I thought it was a very strong performance.”