Corey Harawira-Naera's departure from Penrith left Phil Gould in tears, but it was the Cowboys hurting on Friday night as the Bulldogs' recruit bagged two tries in a breakthrough 24-12 win at ANZ Stadium.
Two second-half tries for the Kiwi kid secured Canterbury's first win in a month, he and fellow back-rowers Josh Jackson and Rhyse Martin dining out against North Queensland's much-vaunted attack.
Like most anything for the Bulldogs in recent years, the 12-point victory didn't come easy.
A borderline forward pass call just five minutes in denied Jayden Okunbor an opening salvo, no doubt giving Graham Annesley some fodder for his weekly referees' review.
It took the Bulldogs another half an hour to get themselves on the board, and not until Harawira-Naera's stroll onto centre stage did they take this contest by the scruff of the neck.
Harawira-Naera produces man of the match performance
After scores had been locked 6-6 at halftime, Harawira-Naera carved through North Queensland on an angled run, giving Canterbury their first lead after 50 minutes of play.
He then showed why Gould was so overcome with emotion when farewelling he and Tyrone Peachey at a Panthers farewell dinner last year, ploughing down the middle for his second try in blue and white and what seemed an insurmountable 24-6 advantage.
The Cowboys made things interesting within 90 seconds though, a Ben Hampton try kicking off an extended assault on Canterbury's line.
Again Harawira-Naerea stepped in to right the Bulldogs ship, somehow denying Gavin Cooper with a ball-and-all effort to keep the veteran forward from touching down.
Match: Bulldogs v Cowboys
Round 7 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- LIVE PASS
Keeping the former Panther company in the clutch moments were his back-rower partners Martin and Jackson, the skipper as deserving as any in some hard-fought success at Belmore.
It was Jackson whose 60th minute try, barging over from close range, that put the Bulldogs in the ascendancy.
And it was Martin who gave them a crack at it in the first place.
A surprise demotion for the first two weeks of 2019, the Cairns-born big man should be a first-grade fixture for some time on yet on his efforts.
Taking little notice of Jake Clifford's tackle around his waist, Martin piloted a daring cut out pass for Okunbor to register the Bulldogs' first try with halftime looming.
Martin then nailed the sideline conversion for good measure along with his three other conversion attempts, handy additions to his 126 running metres and 25 tackles.
A healthy 55 per cent of possession saw Cowboys big men Josh McGuire (194 metres), Jordan McLean (166) and Matt Scott (152) all rack up big numbers of their own.
But with Michael Morgan's kicking radar off target and 10 mistakes in the second half it mattered for nought.
The Bulldogs were spoiling for a fight, their back-row paying little mind to the heavyweights opposite when landing the killer blow.
Morgan places a kick for O'Neill