Wests Tigers have made a tough week for North Queensland just that more unpalatable with a 20-12 NRL win at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night.
The Cowboys had to weather a week of unwelcome headlines after prop Scott Bolton was charged with indecent assault following an alleged incident at a Bondi bar.
The visitors resisted the temptation to withdraw Bolton from the game and he was routinely booed by the 13,127-strong crowd.
The Tigers were far and away the better side all night but it took until Esan Marsters' 69th-minute try for the home side to put the game to bed, breaking a three-game losing streak.
It extended the Cowboys' horrible record at Leichhardt.
They have now lost their last seven at the inner western Sydney ground, a streak that stretches back to round 12, 2000.
Tigers fullback Corey Thompson was instrumental in the win, popping a neat offload for Malaki Watene-Zelezniak's first-half try.
He also pulled off a superb try-saver on Michael Morgan in the second half when the Cowboys five-eighth looked certain to score.
Cult hero Mahe Fonua was also immense, running for a game-high 215 metres and bringing the Tigers faithful to their feet on a number of occasions with a string of big hits.
The Cowboys were lucky not to be trailing by more than 8-6 at the break.
And the Tigers extended their advantage through David Nofoaluma when he caught out some lazy defence on the right edge.
But when Antonio Winterstein took a deflection off a Benji Marshall kick to score a runaway four-pointer, the Cowboys were suddenly level.
An Esan Marsters penalty conversion broke the deadlock and the Cowboys' poor handling finally took a toll after they completed just six of 16 sets in the second half.
The Cowboys also have concerns over Shaun Fenson after he left the field early in the second half with a dislocated elbow.
""It was definitely a big game for us tonight for a number of reasons, not having a win forr a few weeks," Tigers coach Ivan Cleary said.
"That (ball control) is something we haven't had the last couple of games. We lost our rhythm the last two weeks.
"The Cowboys tonight, their second half, was a little bit like what we've been doing. It makes life hard."
Cowboys coach Paul Green said he was proud of the way his charges threw their support behind Bolton.
"I thought he handled it really well," Green said of Bolton.
"I was really proud of the team and the way they rallied around him and I thought he handled it well tonight. It been a tough week for him personally."