Anthony Milford's injury in game one of State of Origin proved costly for Brisbane Broncos as his understudy Jordan Kahu missed a late conversion that saw Sydney Roosters claim an 18-16 win on Saturday.
Milford left the field after a collision with Queensland Maroons team-mate Corey Oates in the 28-4 defeat last week and was rested for the Broncos' trip to the Allianz Stadium.
But the visitors could have done with his services as a strong finish came up short when Kahu buckled under the pressure.
The Roosters - who were without Mitchell Pearce after a head injury of his own in the Origin opener - were 18-6 ahead with six minutes to play thanks to a double from Boyd Cordner and 10 points from Michael Gordon.
However, they were made to sweat as Oates and Tautau Moga scored in the closing stages, Kahu converting the first, but hooking the second to end their comeback hopes.
St George Illawarra Dragons reclaimed second spot behind Melbourne Storm thanks to an inspirational display from returning skipper Gareth Widdop against Wests Tigers.
The England international scored 12 unanswered points in the opening half hour on his comeback from a knee strain and that proved enough despite the Tigers' late rally.
Their 16-12 win could have been easier had Josh Dugan's length-of-the-field try stood, but his sensational break was ruled out for an offside against Jack De Belin.
After a tight opening half at 1300SMILES Stadium, North Queensland Cowboys turned on the style after the break to complete a 20-8 win over Gold Coast Titans.
There was little to separate the two sides in the first 40 minutes and it was the Titans who held a narrow advantage thanks to a try and two kicks from Ash Taylor.
But they were unable to hold on as Kyle Feldt inspired the Cowboys in the second half with 10 points.