The struggling North Queensland Cowboys travelled to third place Penrith Panthers, with the Panthers knowing a win would take them to a top of the table at the halfway point.
Despite a decent first set from the Cowboys, they struggled to contain the Panthers coming back the other way.
Following a goal-line dropout, they worked to the end of the set and Nathan Cleary’s crossfield kick was tapped back by Stephen Crichton to Jarome Luai and who dummied to Mansour, then dived over himself to score.
The next 20 minutes belonged entirely to the Panthers, as they peppered the Cowboys line, but the visitors managed to hold firm.
Just after the half an hour mark, Jake Clifford and Reuben Cotter combined to get the Cowboys within 10-metres of the Penrith line, but instead of running the play left for a certain try, the fifth tackle kick was cleaned up by the home side.
Just minutes later though Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow did makes sure his side would level up though.
He received the ball on the halfway line, the full-back pushed out of the tackle, then accelerated between two Panthers defenders before palming away Dylan Edwards and sliding over in the corner.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 4-4 North Queensland Cowboys
Three minutes into the second period, Cowboys debutant Deajarn Asi collected the ball, and after dummying to go left, stepped back inside and busted through the tackle of Edwards to score.
Penrith were determined to hit back though as Nathan Cleary took the ball to the line before passing out the back to Edwards, then combined with Billy Burns to put Brent Naden in space on the edge to score.
Two crunching hits from Cleary forced an error from the Cowboys, and then, with the ball in hand, the half-back nearly gave his side the lead, but couldn’t quite beat Tabuai-Fidow with his footwork.
Despite holding their own for an hour, the Cowboys went through a poor spell as the Panthers took the lead.
Tyrone May managed to release the ball in the middle of a tackle from Jake Clifford, with Stephen Crichton the recipient to pick up his ninth of the season.
The back and forth battle between the two sides kicked back into gear in the final ten minutes, but the Panthers still had a slender lead.
Time was running out for the Cowboys, as they were visibly tiring in the final five minutes.
The Panthers were the team in possession heading into the final seconds and Cleary made sure of the two-points as he skipped across the defensive line, dummied and then stepped inside Josh McGuire.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 22-10 North Queensland Cowboys
Edwards, Mansour, Whare, Crichton, Naden, Luai, Cleary, Tamou, Koroisau, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo
Interchanges: May, Leniu, Leota, Burns
Tries: Luai, Naden, Crichton, Cleary
Goals: Cleary (3/4)
North Queensland Cowboys
Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt, Lemuelu, Marsters, O’Neill, Asi, Clifford, McGuire, Robson, Molo, Wright, Hess, Taumalolo
Interchanges: Dunn, Gilbert, Cooper, Cotter
Tries: Tabuai-Fidow, Asi
Goals: Feldt (1/2)
Referee: B. Cummins
Touch Judges: P. Henderson, C. Sutton
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)