The North Queensland Cowboys have earned their fifth win of the season by upstaging the Raiders 22-16 at GIO Stadium as the boilovers continued in the Indigenous Round.
The loss by the Raiders, their third in a row, has put an abrupt halt to their early season momentum. On Saturday, Ricky Stuart's men never fully recovered from an ill-disciplined first 20 minutes.
The loss was further soured with co-captain Josh Hodgson not playing in the second half after suffering a suspected broken thumb.
The Englishman's absence was noted in the second half as Canberra's attack failed to fire and the Cowboys held on to a deserved away victory.
The Raiders looked dangerous early with Nick Cotric creating space, setting Michael Oldfield free before a pass on the inside to Sam Williams was ruled forward.
North Queensland secured their first scoring chance of the game off the back of a repeat set and a penalty, with the final pass from Michael Morgan finding the grass rather than the intended set of hands.
Match: Raiders v Cowboys
Round 11 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- LIVE PASS
Three penalties on the trot by the Raiders saw the Cowboys take the penalty goal option from right in front as they took a 2-0 lead after eight minutes.
Jake Granville continued to apply the pressure on the home side by darting out of dummy-half seeing, only to be held up over the try line.
Kyle Feldt was then denied a try, when the video referee ruled the Cowboys winger lost the ball over the line as the visitors dominated possession and territory through the first 12 minutes.
On Canberra's first real trip into the red zone, they went agonisingly close to scoring when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad knocked on when trying to ground a Jack Wighton grubber.
Granville made the most of a defensive lapse in the next set with Tom Opacic cruising over untouched to make the score 8-0 after 16 minutes.
A 40-20 kick from Wighton failed to yield a result for the home side as the Raiders struggled to get their teeth into the game.
However, off the back of a late tackle penalty, the Raiders were able to spread the ball to their left with Wighton finding Bailey Simonsson with a cut-out pass for 8-4.
Canberra drew level when Michael Oldfield grounded a Williams kick, with the ball somehow finding its way through three Cowboys defenders untouched.
Jarrod Croker put the conversion over and the home side had the lead for the first time.
Off the back of a surging Jason Taumalolo run downfield, the Cowboys hit back with a run on the last tackle as Justin O'Neill plunged over to make it 14-10 at the break.
Canberra then lost Hodgson and the Cowboys picked up where they left off, with winger Kyle Feldt unmarked with a wide kick to make the score 18-10.
North Queensland continue to put their foot on Canberra's throats as a line-break saw a scrambling Raiders defence caught off-side, with the easy shot at goal seeing them extend the lead to 10 points.
Canberra refused to go away despite playing far from their best, with Siliva Havili burrowing over to cut the lead to 20-16 with 20 minutes left.
Taumalolo was denied a try by the video referee in the 72nd minute. However, halfback Williams was off-side at marker, with the two points via the boot of Jordan Kahu allowing the Cowboys crucially to edge ahead 22-16.
An off-load from Josh Papalii found Croker but he was pulled up short of the line in the last roll of the dice.