Another second half fade out has handed the Canberra Raiders their third straight defeat, losing 26-24 to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
The Raiders scored four tries and led by as many as 18 points in the first half before failing to score in the second half collapse.
The Raiders scored first through Jordan Rapana before a mistake in the next set handed the Cowboys the immediate response.
It was a scrappy first half with both sides making several errors until the Raiders scored three tries in 12 minutes to gain control.
First it was Emre Guler who crashed over from close range before Rapana added his second, strolling over untouched.
George Williams finished a brilliant bit of work from Tom Starling to make it 24-6 after 38 minutes and it looked like the Green Machine finally had their game going again.
However, Williams dropped the ball off the ensuing kick off and the Cowboys scored their second try to keep in the contest at 24-12 at half time.
The momentum seemed to swing off that final try of the first half with the home side coming out firing after the break.
Reece Robson darted over from close range to reduce the margin to 6 after 45 minutes before a Justin O’Neill try levelled the scores with still over 20 minutes remaining.
The Raiders were starting their sets from deep in their own territory and hardly threatened to score at all in the second half as an infringement against Ryan James allowed Valentine Holmes to kick a penalty goal to give the Cowboys a 26-24 lead with 10 minutes to go.
The Raiders couldn’t muster the energy required to come up with a match winner as the Cowboys condemned them to their third straight defeat.
The second half fade out is becoming a worrying trend for the Raiders, who have scored just four points in the second half in their last three matches.