Veteran five-eighth Benji Marshall continued to push for a Kiwis test recall, with a late field goal to steer Wests Tigers home 27-26 over North Queensland on Friday.
The Tigers won ugly in Townsville, thanks to a 73rd-minute penalty try to winger Michael Chee-Kam and Marshall's extra-time heroics.
Chee-Kam was in the process of putting down the ball, when he was caught across the head by Cowboys fullback Jordan Kahu, who knocked the ball free.
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The incident was sent up to third match officials as a no-try, but upon closer inspection, the bunker reversed the decision to give the Tigers the lead.
But after a Cowboys penalty equalled the scores, Marshall won the match, potting over a field goal in extra time.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was furious with the controversial penalty-try ruling.
"There is no way you can say that was a penalty try," he said. "There is no way you can guarantee he will score that."
Counterpart - and Kiwis coach - Michael McGuire predictably had a different view.
"That's their job to decide. We were lucky tonight - we haven't had many of those go our way, so it was nice to get one."
Just 24 hours earlier, Maguire had named Marshall in an extended squad to prepare for the Kiwis' test against Tonga next week. The former NZ captain hasn't worn the black jersey since 2012.
The final Kiwis line-up will be named on Sunday night.
North Queensland had fought out of a 18-0 hole, unable to stop an avalanche of Tigers tries in the early stages. Second-rower Chee-Kam, Ryan Matterson and David Nofoaluma all scored early to make up for their scoreless night against Canberra the week before.
But a fortuitous run of events turned the match the way of the Cowboys, when Kyle Feldt, Javid Bowen and Michael Morgan all scored, thanks to poor Tigers errors.
Their comeback took full flight in the 68th minute, when Morgan threw a marvellous cut-out ball for Feldt's second to take the lead for the first time in the match.
But after Chee-Kam's controversial second score and a frantic period of extra-time, where the Tigers had three attempts before Marshall's winner, the home side were left with nothing.
It could get even worse for North Queensland, with representative forward Coen Hess unable to return to the field, after he was left clutching at his knee early in the second half.
Both sides have next weekend off - the Tigers will take on Souths on June 27, while the Cowboys will be away to the Dragons on the 28th.
Join us on June 22 for live updates of the NZ Kiwis v Tonga rugby league test