North Queensland have notched back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a 27-14 NRL win over Brisbane in Townsville on Friday night.
Cowboys forward Ethan Lowe appeared to have scored the decisive try in the 72nd minute when he latched onto a Johnathan Thurston ball.
But it was an arm wrestle to the end in front of a full-voiced crowd of 21,340 with Dale Copley scoring with just five minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish.
Thurston ended the resistance with a 78th minute field goal before hooker Rory Kostjasyn scored under the posts in the final minute to blow the margin out.
Maligned for their error rate in the opening rounds of 2014, the Cowboys were perfect in the opening exchanges, completing their first 14 sets to race out to a 14-0 lead through tries to Matthew Scott and Kane Linnett.
Scott was Herculean for the Cowboys, the Queensland and Test prop storming downfield 19 times for 235m to go along with his 19 tackles.
Cowboys fans had their hearts in their throats when Thurston was collected with an accidental shoulder from Dale Copley and was forced from the field in the 26th minute for a concussion test.
He passed the test, returning to the field in the shadows of halftime. But in his absence the Broncos managed to wrestle back field position and threatened the Cowboys line on several occasions.
The Broncos came out firing in the second half, an intercept from Jack Reed setting up Ben Hunt’s first try in the right corner before four straight sets at the Cowboys line eventually allowed Hunt to reach out for his second and bring the Broncos back to within four points.
It could have been more if Reed had not of knocked the ball on over the tryline in the 51st minute.
After grimly defending for much of the second half, Cowboys halfback Robert Lui – recalled from Queensland Cup duty in place of the injured Ray Thompson (knee) – raced clear to put his side in attacking position.
And Thurston made no mistake, laying on the pass that allowed 23-year-old Lowe to score.
Giant Broncos prop David Hala was taken from the field just before halftime after copping an accidental Jason Taumalolo elbow. He was issued a concussion test and did not return.
St George Illawarra recruit Cameron King was solid on debut for the Cowboys, but may attract the attention of the match review committee for a suspected crusher tackle on Copley.