An electric performance by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow wasn't enough for North Queensland as the fast-finishing Sydney Roosters claimed a tense 34-18 NRL win in Townsville.
Tabuai-Fidow continued an unforgettable week, which included making a triumphant State of Origin debut for Queensland, with another superb outing on his home turf on Saturday afternoon.
Filling in for injured star Valentine Holmes at fullback, Tabuai-Fidow lit up the crowd when his breathtaking 90-metre run set up Reece Robson's try in the 62nd minute to level the scores.
But it was the Roosters' own young gun in Sam Walker who delivered the hammer blow, setting up Sitili Tupouniua for the go-ahead try before sealing the contest himself in the closing stages.
Winger Matt Ikuvalu backed up his record five-try haul on his last visit to Queensland Country Bank Stadium by completing his double on the full-time siren.
It was a hard-fought victory for Trent Robinson's undermanned outfit, who were also without rested captain James Tedesco following Origin III on Wednesday.
Ikuvalu, together with fill-in fullback Joseph Manu and Daniel Tupou, formed a back three that combined for a whopping 557 metres, 20 tackle busts, six line breaks, and three tries.
Walker's halves partner, Drew Hutchison, set up three tries in the first half before Walker took over in the second period with two of his own.
Robinson was ecstatic with his team's maturity and patience that has been lacking this year.
"It's the first time this year we've been that way. I'm really pumped about (that)," he said.
"There's lots of things we did poorly and more things we did right, but I saw the embers of a team that wants to play the right style of footy. It was awesome."
It was a shattering loss for North Queensland, who missed 50 tackles and have now dropped a season-high five on the trot, leaving them entrenched in the bottom half of the ladder.
Tabuai-Fidow, playing his first game at fullback this season, finished with a game-high and career-high 257 metres, nine tackle busts, and two line breaks to go with a first-half try.
"I thought he was really strong for us," Cowboys coach Todd Payten said.
"Big week for him, to back up from an Origin, so that's a first for him. I thought he was pretty flat yesterday at training. He didn't talk much but he got through and needed to get his body moving.
"My message was simple today. We just wanted him around the ball and then with our line inside our 30, we needed seven on the long side when they're parked in and around that 6-4 split area.
"I thought he did a really good job with our line as well, so I hope he improves again."
The home side started brightly, opening with a Javid Bowen try in the fifth minute before Tabuai-Fidow sent the locals into a frenzy with a 30-metre sprint to breeze past Manu.
They should've had a third had Tom Dearden found support after breaking into the backfield.
It was an opportunity missed as the Roosters dominated thereafter, with Hutchison almost single-handedly turning a 12-point deficit into a two-point halftime lead.
The back-up playmaker sent Angus Crichton and Billy Smith over in the space of 10 minutes, before finding Manu on the stroke of halftime, all down the Cowboys' right edge.
Compounding the defeat for the Cowboys was the citing of second-rower Shane Wright for a crusher tackle, and Bowen suffering a suspected ACL injury.