The Wests Tigers have hammered North Queensland with the equal-best first half of the joint venture’s history before surviving a brief fightback to beat the Cowboys 36-20.
In the truest definition of a game of two halves, the Tigers led 34-0 at the break before North Queensland gave them a scare with three tries in seven minutes.
However, any hopes of a Cowboys comeback were put to bed when Esan Marsters was penalised for taking Moses Mbye off the ball.
It allowed Mbye to kick the Tigers back 20 points clear with 17 minutes to play, putting the game to bed and piling the pressure on Cowboys coach Paul Green.
The win momentarily moved the Tigers into the top eight but did come at a cost.
Alex Twal suffered a medial injury in his knee. He looks like spending a month on the sidelines. Winger Robert Jennings also suffered a hamstring injury while scoring a try.
And, Zane Musgrove left the field late with a knee injury, leaving some concerns for coach Michael Maguire ahead of next week’s clash with Canterbury.
The Cowboys, missing Valentine Holmes, Michael Morgan and Jordan McLean, were poor from the outset.
Jason Taumalolo fumbled the ball on their first set of six, in a play which would sum up how the rest of their evening would play out.
Musgrove crossed from the next set, giving the Tigers one of two soft tries through the middle with Josh Aloiai scoring the other.
The Tigers appeared to make a point of targeting former teammate Marsters, with three of their tries coming down that channel.
The pick of them came courtesy of a long cut-out from David Nofoaluma which put Mbye past the Cowboys’ centre, before he found Luke Brooks inside him to cross.
The points equalled their first-half mark from round 14 in 2004 when they also led the Warriors 34-0.
As good as the Tigers’ attack was, their defence was equally impressive in the first half.
Incredibly, the Cowboys had more than double the amount of play-the-balls on the Tigers’ tryline than the hosts did in the first half.
Adam Doueihi at one stage held out a hard-running Taumalolo from close to the line early.
But the fatigue appeared to show after the break when they conceded three tries between the 53rd and 60th minutes.
Scott Drinkwater had the Cowboys first from a 90-metre intercept off a Josh Reynolds pass, before Kyle Feldt collected a Jake Clifford cross-field kick.
Feldt had his second with 20 minutes to go when Drinkwater skipped across field, and allowed him to shrug off Brooks and score before Marsters also crossed late.
The result means the Cowboys have conceded 89 points in their past three games, with matches against top-eight teams for each of the next six weeks.