North Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston has steered his side to a hard-fought 32-22 win over St George Illawarra in a match featuring a nasty all-in brawl and more drama over the obstruction rule.
With his side trailing 22-18 at the hour mark, Thurston took matters into his own hands to score a great individual try and then set up one for Matt Bowen to turn the game on its head.
The victory keeps the Cowboys in fifth spot while the Saints' slim finals hopes have evaporated.
Thurston's try was green-lighted by video referee Phil Cooley despite the Dragons' protesting that Aaron Payne had impeded the defence.
The four-pointer came minutes after the game exploded in a flurry of punches following a confrontation between Matt Cooper and James Tamou at the play-the-ball.
Players came from everywhere to join the fight, Saints winger Daniel Vidot throwing punches like a Golden Gloves contender.
He was sent to the sin bin for his troubles and was joined by Cowboys interchange forward Ricky Thorby, who had rushed in to challenge Vidot.
When the pair returned to the field the game was as good as gone thanks to Thurston's brilliance.
Ashley Graham gave the Cowboys the perfect start with his 19th try of the season after just six minutes.
North Queensland doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when Kane Linnett trampled Jamie Soward en route to the line.
It was looking like a long night for the Dragons as the small crowd fell silent, stunned their team was offering so little with so much to play for.
Ben Creagh did hit back for the home side on 26 minutes, after the Dragons received a mountain of possession inside the Cowboys quarter.
Soward's conversion narrowed the gap to six.
But Creagh knocked on from the kick off and punishment was just around the corner.
From the scrum win Linnett cut back on the angle to accept a pass from Matt Bowen and slice through to collect the easiest of doubles.
It was at that point the Dragons stood up and started to deliver.
Jack de Belin and Mitch Rein exchanged passes to put the hooker in under the posts.
Just before half-time, Soward cut out two players with a beautiful long pass for Vidot to touch down in the corner unopposed.
The Red V trailed 18-16 and suddenly there was life in their season.
They took the lead through Dan Hunt early in the second half and looked capable of going on with the job until Thurston stepped up to have the final say.
St George Illawarra 22
Tries: Creagh, Rein, Vidot, Hunt
Goals: Soward 3
North Queensland 32
Tries: Linnett 2, Graham, Thurston, Bowen
Goals: Thurston 6