For the second time in less than two years, a controversial video refereeing decision involving Kieran Foran has gone against North Queensland to hand Manly a 26-21 victory on Friday night.
Video referees Bernard Sutton and Paul Mellor awarded a try to Foran in the 72nd minute, despite replays suggesting Manly's Jamie Buhrer had obstructed Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson.
In the 2012 finals series, the video referee incorrectly awarded the Sea Eagles a try despite replays showing that Foran had knocked on contesting a bomb.
It was a case of deja vu on Friday night at Central Coast Stadium, with Johnathan Thurston again left to question the match officials in disbelief of what had just transpired.
"He directly runs at the line and takes him out," Thurston said to referee Gavin Badger after the video referees awarded the try. "It's not good enough Badge, it's not good enough mate."
When Foran's try was awarded and converted by Jamie Lyon, the Sea Eagles equalled the score at 20-20 having trailed by 10 points four minutes earlier.
But with five minutes on the clock, Thurston slotted a field goal under extreme pressure to give his side a one-point advantage heading into the final exchanges.
But in the absence of halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Foran produced a stroke of genius to seal the deal for the home side with two minutes on the clock.
Foran and Buhrer - the two players at the centre of the controversial video referee decision, combined for the match winner with Foran producing a brilliant short ball on the last tackle to put Buhrer in beside the post.
The Sea Eagles had to defend their line in the final minute after the Cowboys retained possession from the kick off, however Geoff Toovey's men held firm despite an onslaught from the visitors.
Thurston was incredible for the Cowboys, providing his side with what Manly so badly lacked in the absence of the injured Cherry-Evans - direction.
Manly continued their love affair with the Central Coast in front of a crowd of 10,013, winning their 12th game at the venue in their last 15 appearances,
In the first half it was a short side raid from the Sea Eagles allowed Foran and Brett Stewart to combine and put Steve Matai through a small gap to give the Sea Eagles an early lead.
The Cowboys then scored three unanswered tries, two to Brent Tate and one to Kyle Feldt, to take a 14-6 lead into the break.
Thurston had a penalty attempt from 30 metres out early in the second half, but the Australian No.6 hooked it wide of the sticks to add to the Cowboys' woes with the boot, missing three goals.
Manly's first penalty of the game came in the 48th minute, which led to Jorge Taufua crossing in the corner from the ensuing set to reduce North Queensland's lead to 14-10.
Cowboys debutant Curtis Rona, who starred for North Queensland in the Auckland Nines in the pre-season, extended his side's lead back to 10 points when he registered the first try of his career in the 58th minute.
But a grandstand finish was set up after Brett Stewart broke through the line to put Taufua in for his second and reduce the deficit to just six points with 12 minutes remaining.