North Queensland have made it a club record eight straight wins with an 8-0 victory over the Wests Tigers in Campbelltown.
For 77 minutes, a first half penalty goal to Ethan Lowe looked to be the difference in a match that was the lowest scoring game since the infamous scoreless draw between Newtown and Canterbury in 1982.
But Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein sealed the win in the shadows of fulltime, breaking through on a James Tedesco spilt ball close to his own tryline and breaking the hearts of the modest 8,267 crowd.
Both sides struggled mightily without their Origin stars, particularly in a first half where neither team could mount any sort of pressure on the opposition, let alone post points on the scoreboard.
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote was a standout, coming up with the goods after being peppered by the Tigers kickers all night as well as directing his own team around the park with his left boot.
Lowe gave the Cowboys a slender 2-0 lead in the 28th minute after the Tigers were penalised for stripping in the tackle.
The hosts looked to have finally broken the drought in the 55th minute when five-eighth Mitchell Moses chased down his own chip and toed ahead for Kevin Naiqama, only for the Tigers winger to fumble the ball over the line.
In his first game back since injuring his ankle playing for Samoa three weeks ago, Tigers centre Tim Simona re-aggravated the injury late in the first half and failed to return after halftime.
Cowboys coach Paul Green admitted that while it was a dour game for the spectators, he was extremely pleased with holding the Tigers scoreless.
“You only get two points from it, so it doesn’t matter how you win,” he said after the game.
“I’m just really proud of the effort from the boys tonight, particularly defensively. It’s our first nil scoreline this year and that’s what won the game for us.
“Hopefully we can take a lot of confidence in our defence out of a game like that.”
Tigers coach Jason Taylor was just as delighted with his team’s progress in defence after being one of the worst defensive sides in the competition last year.
“For us in the end to not score any points was really disappointing,” he said.
“That’s not what we’ve come to know from the Wests Tigers over the years.
“But at the same time we’re working really hard to change the way this team plays because we’re coming from a long way behind in terms of matching it with the best teams in the comp.
“One try against us tonight was a major positive for us. That’s what we’re working towards.