Manly secured a 26-21 come-from-behind win over North Queensland on Friday night on the back of a highly controversial obstruction ruling.
Kieran Foran laid on the matchwinning try for Jamie Buhrer in the 78th minute after Johnathan Thurston had two minutes earlier kicked the Cowboys one point clear.
But it was a 72nd-minute try to Foran, with Ray Thompson appearing to have been prevented from making a goalline tackle on the Manly playmaker – by Buhrer running a decoy – that is sure to be a major talking point over the weekend.
Thurston vehemently protested to referee Gavin Badger but the try was given by the video referee.
Compounding the Cowboys’ raw deal was an apparent knock-on by Brett Stewart in the lead-up that was ruled as six again.
With the conversion, Jamie Lyon locked up the scores at 20-20.
Against a Manly side without Daly Cherry-Evans (leg), who was ruled out pre-game and Anthony Watmough, who didn’t take the field in the second half due to an elbow injury, the Cowboys looked set to secure a rare away win before Manly stormed home from 20-10 down.
A first-half double to Brent Tate and another to Kyle Feldt had the Cowboys ahead 14-6 at the break after Steve Matai opened the scoring for the home side in the fifth minute.
But a Jorge Taufua second-half double helped build Manly’s momentum.
Taufua scored his first in the 59th minute when Manly created numbers on their right.
The blockbusting Sea Eagles winger scored his second eight minutes later when Brett Stewart split the Cowboys’ line and drew fullback Michael Morgan to peg the visitors’ lead to 20-14.
In between Taufua’s double, Curtis Rona scored his first NRL try on debut in the 56th minute and Thurston converted.