St George Illawarra snapped a two-game losing streak with a convincing 24-10 victory over North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night, taking them back to the top of the NRL ladder.
Matt Dufty and Gareth Widdop starred as Paul McGregor's side sealed a win that lifts them above South Sydney on points difference.
Jason Nightingale, Dufty and debutant Jordan Pereira scored tries for the visitors while Gavin Cooper notched the Cowboys' only four-pointer.
The Dragons came out firing with Dufty breaking the line with a shimmy inside Johnathan Thurston before laying on a try for Nightingale after two minutes.
Two penalties from Thurston reduced the margin, the second after Jack de Belin was penalised for slowing the play the ball and was sent to the sin bin.
The Cowboys took full advantage with veteran forward Gavin Cooper scoring his third try in as many games.
Cooper collected the ball after a tackle on Kane Linnett two metres from the line and faked a pass right to wrong-foot Ben Hunt before he dived over on the left-hand side.
The electric Dufty ensured the lead would not last with a try just after the half-hour mark.
Fed by Widdop, the fullback raced through a gap in the Cowboys' line before diagonally making a bee-line for the uprights.
Although Te Maire Martin took him to ground he could not hold on to the tackle and Dufty got up and dived over.
De Belin made amends for his early error by forcing a turnover late in the half and Hunt ghosted through the line before feeding Tariq Sims who scored.
Ten minutes into the second half, the game was effectively over as Widdop's perfect kick to the left wing was collected by Pereira who scored his first NRL try.
The committed Dragons' defence denied a way back into the game for last year's grand finalists who remain second last on the ladder.
Although McGregor's side were more offensively fluid in the first half, their defence after the break most impressed the Dragons coach.
"We were on point with our execution in the first half whenever we got in field position," McGregor said.
"We probably did a little too much (defending) at the end, we got a little tired, but the work they did was outstanding. Even though we gave away a few metres the missed-tackle count was very low."
His opposite number Green was left to rue his side's errors, which cost them chances when in positions to hurt the Dragons and led to a seventh defeat this year at 1300SMILES stadium.
"In some respects we shot ourselves in the foot," Green said.
"We worked our way back into the game and in some ways were on top and then a simple error would release the pressure valve."
The Cowboys next host the Newcastle Knights on Friday, while the Dragons have an eight-day break before facing the Sydney Roosters.
Australian Associated Press