The Sydney Roosters have continued to warm up for the NRL finals by surviving a late scare from North Queensland to claim their fourth-straight win in the NRL.
The Roosters appeared set for a cricket score when Daniel Tupou dived over to kick his team out to a comfortable 18-point lead midway through the second half on Saturday.
But a 58th minute try to Johnathan Thurston kickstarted a Cowboys comeback, and the visitors got within six on Gavin Cooper's effort not long after.
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With momentum on their side, the visitors - who were near-perfect with 33 completions from 34 sets - had a number of looks at the Roosters tryline that had the 9721 Allianz Stadium crowd on edge.
However the Roosters held on to prevail 26-20 and set up a mouth-watering clash with ladder leaders and fierce rivals South Sydney next Friday.
The loss for the Cowboys - as well as Parramatta's win earlier on Saturday - also means Thurston remains in danger of retiring with the wooden spoon.
The Townsville-based side are now equal with the Eels on 12 points with four games to go.
Latrell Mitchell picked up where he left off from last week's tryscoring feats when he opened the scoring courtesy of Boyd Cordner's quick hands in the 12th minute.
Cowboys star Jason Taumalolo responded by stampeding over James Tedesco not long after, before the Roosters kicked ahead on one of the tries of the season by Joseph Manu.
The Roosters centre produced a goose step and fend on Justin O'Neill before flicking back to Blake Ferguson, who kicked ahead for Manu to soar and finish.
Two penalty goals from Mitchell ensured the Roosters were up by eight at the break, and a big score loomed when Blake Ferguson crossed early in second half.
Thurston finished the night with 12 individual points to take him to 2180 career points, moving past Andrew Johns (2176) to become the third highest pointscorer of all time.