Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone and Kurt Gidley were pleased to secure a 2-point win in Townsville on Saturday night.
"We talked about more will than skill last week and it wasn't much different this week," Stone admitted.
"They are a tough team to defend... we got ourselves into trouble in that first half.
"I thought our goal line defence in particular was good during that period."
Gidley, who returned from hamstring tightness, was proud of his team for winning a challenging road trip.
"We knew how big of an assignment it was coming up here, we have been beaten pretty convincingly over the last few years," the captain said.
"It is a massive win, we still have plenty to work on but I think our character has been the most pleasing part from our past two wins."
It was a tough encounter at 1300Smiles Stadium, with the Knights' Beau Scott on report as well as the Cowboys' Thurston.
"I think Johnno (Thurston) competes hard," Stone added.
"I think it's our job to compete hard. You've got to compete for the 80 minutes if you're going to take the points out of Townsville.
"We made sure we competed hard right across the park today."