North Queensland's mid-season surge has continued, with the Cowboys grinding out a 24-12 NRL win over the freefalling Warriors in Townsville.
Scores were locked at 12-12 on Saturday night after a dogged first half and, while the Cowboys never reached any great heights, they rolled on to a fourth-straight win without Johnathan Thurston.
The Warriors, also without their injured star half Shaun Johnson, will need a minor miracle to sneak into the top eight.
North Queensland's forwards laid the platform, with Kiwi wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo at his brilliant best with 174m from 17 runs, while new Queensland State of Origin player Coen Hess also impressed with 130m off the bench.
The Warriors started well and opened the scoring after 10 minutes when second-rower Bunty Afoa showed great speed to charge over from 30 metres out.
The Cowboys were quick to strike back when Lachlan Coote hit Justin O'Neill with a great ball as the veteran broke his try-scoring duck for 2017.
Neither team excelled in a sluggish first half, but the Cowboys edged ahead when recalled winger Javid Bowen pounced on a crafty Jake Granville kick.
Their lead was brief when Warriors back-rower Simon Mannering sliced through some poor Cowboys defence in the final minute of the half, with Issac Luke's conversion making it 12-12 at the main break.
The visitors showed great attacking intent to start the second half, but the Cowboys' goal-line defence held firm and they were able to move ahead through an Ethan Lowe penalty goal.
Lowe was again in the thick of the action soon after when he collected an excellent Kyle Feldt offload to dive over for a try in the right corner.
Lachlan Coote narrowly missed a late field-goal attempt that would have taken the lead out to seven points, but the out-of-sorts Warriors never seriously threatened the North Queensland defence in the final minutes.
In the final seconds, the 16,080 fans at 1300SMILES Stadium again cheered as Bowen pounced on a loose ball and darted 80 metres to complete his double on the siren.
This story first appeared on Brisbane Times.