St George Illawarra Dragons have moved to the top of the Telstra Premiership table following a 24-10 win over North Queensland on Saturday night.
Following South Sydney's shock loss to Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium, the Dragons needed to win by 14 points or more to take top spot off the Bunnies on for and against.
Match: Cowboys v Dragons
Round 19 -
Venue: 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville
Running in four tries to one in Townsville, Paul McGregor's men also snapped a worrying two-game losing streak.
The Dragons started in ominous fashion, capitalising with a repeat set off the back of a Cowboys penalty to post the first points of the evening after winger Jason Nightingale dived over out wide.
Paul McGregor's men then allowed the hosts to play themselves into the contest due to poor discipline, with two penalties converted by Johnathan Thurston resulting in a 6-4 scoreline in favour of the Red V.
Moments later the Cowboys went 10-6 in front when Gavin Cooper strolled over virtually untouched close to the line while Dragons' Origin forward Jack De Belin was in the sin bin.
Leading into halftime, errors began to creep into the contest but the Dragons steadied and regained the lead in the 32nd minute when fullback Matt Dufty hit a yawning gap before scoring under the posts.
Match highlights: Cowboys v Dragons – Round 19, 2018
Dufty was at his evasive best, shrugging off an attempted tackle from Te Maire Martin before planting the ball down.
De Belin and Ben Hunt combined six minutes later to put Tariq Sims over as the Dragons went to the break leading 18-10.
Debutant Jordan Pereira put his name on the tryscoring list 10 minutes after half-time courtesy of a brilliant left foot kick by Gareth Widdop.
With Thurston and debutant Jake Clifford calling the shots, the Cowboys threw plenty at the Dragons in the final 30 minutes but were unable to crack the defence.
News & Notes: The Dragons won their first game in Townsville since 2005... Winger Jordan Pereira had scored 16 tries in 16 games in the Intrust Super Premiership this year before scoring on debut tonight for the Dragons... Jake Clifford made his NRL debut for the Cowboys... John Asiata left the field for an HIA in the first half and passed his test... The Cowboys have won only two from 11 against teams currently in the top eight.