Canberra extended their home record to 11 straight wins with a 26-18 NRL victory over North Queensland yesterday.
Three first-half tries gave the Raiders a handy lead and they clung on for a crucial victory at Canberra Stadium that also snapped a five-game losing streak against the Cowboys.
Things just didn't click for Johnathan Thurston and the Cowboys in the first 40 minutes. Their slow line speed in defence allowed the Raiders to make easy metres up the middle from their own half.
On too many occasions captain Terry Campese was able to launch attacking high balls from sets that began 10m from the Raiders' own try line.
In contrast, the Raiders successfully rushed up on the Cowboys' backs in defence, while Josh Papalii (136m) and David Shillington (170m) were inspirational for the home side in attack.
Thurston made amends for an ordinary first half by opening the scoring in the second half.
The Raiders seemingly then switched off after a penalty goal extended their lead to 20-6, Cowboys playmaker Robert Lui making them pay with another converted try.
But twinkle toes Raiders fullback Anthony Milford was finally rewarded for a brilliant run-on debut with a try off the back of a scrum in the 75th minute, putting the fast-finishing Cowboys to the sword.
Newcastle have moved into the top eight with a gutsy 18-12 victory over Canterbury in Mackay.
The Bulldogs took an early second-half lead in Ben Barba's North Queensland home town when Josh Morris scored after a strong run.
But tries to veteran hooker Danny Buderus in the 59th minute and Chris Houston 10 minutes later sealed the Knights' second win in a row - and lifted Wayne Bennett-coached Newcastle over the Bulldogs on the ladder - although the Dogs kept pressing until the end.
The teams were locked 8-all at halftime after a half where the Knights dominated territory but couldn't pull clear of the Bulldogs.
Houston and in-form wing James McManus scored the first-half tries for Newcastle while Josh Reynolds and Krisnan Inu crossed for Canterbury.
Home town favourite Barba, who went close to a try twice in the Dogs' opening set, had the fans on their feet when he stepped his way clear late in the half.
But a brilliant effort by Knights halfback Tyrone Roberts denied the Bulldogs fullback on the goal-line.