A Johnathan Thurston masterclass has propelled North Queensland to their 11th consecutive NRL win, a 21-20 cliffhanger over Canberra in the nation’s capital.
With Michael Morgan the only player not to back up, the Cowboys’ State of Origin contingent all played strongly in their second game in four days.
Matt Scott was in some doubt in the lead up but came away with a thumping effort and was ably supported by fellow bookend James Tamou.
A shoulder injury prevented Morgan turning out, with the decision not to risk him made just hours before kickoff.
Thurston had a hand in all three Cowboys tries. He also kicked two conversions, two penalty goals and the winning field goal.
The side’s other standouts were hooker Jake Granville and fullback Lachlan Coote.
After an 8-6 lead at halftime, Matthew Wright and Gavin Cooper crossed the stripe for the Cowboys to regain a lead which had briefly been pinched from their grasp by a try to Raiders fullback Jack Wighton in the 58th minute.
But with Canberra winger Jordon Rapana taken out in the air, a successful penalty by Jarrod Croker in the 78th minute levelled the score at 20-20, threatening to send the game into golden point.
The Cowboys won a scrum 35 metres out following a Raiders mistake and Thurston had two field goal attempts charged down in the final minute of the game.
He finally potted the winner with just seconds remaining.
The Cowboys dominated the first half and, after a Coote grubber earned a repeat set, Antonio Winterstein opened the scoring in the sixth minute in the left corner.
Thurston quickly found his groove, earning another repeat set with only desperate Raiders’ defence preventing points.
The Cowboys took a penalty shot in the 17th minute.
Canberra hit back with nice hands down the left side for Blake Austin and Croker to combine to send Edrick Lee over. Croker added the extras to level the score at 6-6 in the 23rd minute.
Both teams had first-half tries disallowed, with Coote and Austin denied by the video referee.
Another Thurston penalty on the stroke of halftime broke the deadlock, and the Cowboys headed into the sheds 8-6 up.
The Raiders’ loss leaves them with just one home win in 2015.