North Queensland have all but booked their ticket to this year's NRL finals after Kyle Feldt scored twice to steal a comeback 22-14 win over the Wests Tigers.
Faced with the prospect of dropping out of the top eight with defeat, the Cowboys were down 14-6 after Tigers winger Malakai Watene-Zelezniak scored with 16 minutes to go on Friday.
But Paul Green's undermanned side crossed twice through Feldt in the space of four minutes to snap a worrying four-game slide and consolidate sixth spot on the ladder.
The Cowboys right winger first finished off a right-side shift to reduce the deficit to four in the 66th minute, before racing to ground Michael Morgan's long-range grubber soon after.
Morgan sealed the win by plucking Jake Granville's late deft kick, lifting the visitors four points clear of ninth-placed St George Illawarra with one game left for them in the regular season.
The Dragons face sixth-placed Penrith on Sunday.
It was yet another brave performance from the Cowboys, who are without five top-line players including co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.
They struggled for fluency for the best part of the opening hour in Campbelltown before being awoken by Watene-Zelezniak's second-half try.
Morgan, who was ably supported by Te Maire Martin's dangerous first-half effort, then took over and provided the clutch plays for Feldt.
Star forward Jason Taumalalo was once again strong with a game-high 179 metres.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was proud of his team's resiliency but criticised their cautious approach to the beginning of the match.
"We've got to start better obviously. It was a good effort tonight, we probably played a bit tight at the start, a little bit safety first," he said.
"We just need to back ourselves and do what we can do individually and as a team and the rest will flow off the back of that. Big effort to come out in the second half and get the result."
In a hotly-contested first half, Tigers skipper Aaron Woods surprised the 9,346 crowd with the opening points when he sold Taumalolo a dummy in the 24th minute.
It didn't take long for the Cowboys to respond, with five-eighth Te Maire Martin mirroring Woods' fake to fool Tuimoala Lolohea four minutes later.
However the Tigers claimed a four-point halftime lead when Josh Aloiai trampled over Martin - breaking his nose in the process - before scoring in the 35th minute.
Tigers youngster Bayley Sironen, son of Balmain legend Paul, played 22 minutes on debut.
Tigers coach Ivan Cleary identified a crucial fifth-tackle penalty for a shoulder charge against centre Michael Chee Kam that was a major turning point in the match.
"It just came down to a couple of big moments. One in particular; a fifth-tackle penalty I think it was just after we'd scored and we hardly saw the ball after that," he said.