And you thought North Queensland's last grand final appearance was a fairytale story.
For just the third time in history, a Sydney club will not contest the grand final. While everyone has seemingly been waiting for next weekend's coronation of Melbourne, no one has told the Cowboys. The odds will again be stacked against them, but that is how they like it.
In a game in which the lead changed on four occasions, the men from Townsville finished in front when the siren sounded. They again did so without their talisman Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, even if the latter threatened to make the most unexpected of comebacks. Expect seven more days of speculation on a potential return.
The Cowboys should not be here. Had the Dragons held on against the Bulldogs in round 26, their Mad Monday would have been held before the finals. Now they have a second premiership in their sights.
According to Roosters coach Trent Robinson, Michael Morgan is the best player in the world right now. Based on performances like this one, it is hard to argue. There is class in every touch of the footy. The pass he threw for Kane Linnett to score midway through the second half was the perfect follow-up to the play before, a Jason Taumalolo hit-up that attracted four defenders who struggled to get back into the line.
The try assist was just one of several big Morgan plays including a 40-20 and countless repeat sets from his boot. Fittingly, he kicked the field goal that sealed the deal and sent North Queensland troppo.
There were some familiar heroes for the visitors. Kyle Feldt, who knows how to get the ball across the line on a big day, did it again. The Cowboys winger planted the ball down in the south-western corner, with the football touching the green grass milliseconds before the painted line. There may be more prolific try-scorers, but none finish as well on the big stage.
The Roosters have risen from 15th on the ladder last year after winning 12 games by six points or fewer. Yet the Cowboys proved the closers when it mattered, keeping their heads and setting up a tantalising clash with the Storm.
There were moments of brilliance from the Chooks. Mitchell Pearce made sure Morgan didn't have it all his own way when he ran to the line, attracting the interest of a defender who should have remained disinterested, to put Boyd Cordner into a gap for Connor Watson to finish.
But every time they threatened to kick away, the Cowboys clawed their way back.
The speed of the game was intense from the outset. There wasn't a penalty or a dropped ball until Roosters forward Isaac Liu uncharacteristically dropped the Steeden coming off his own line. That occurred in the 17th minute. The early pace should have favoured the Roosters, fresh after a week off. However, the visitors, in spite of their exertions in the opening weeks of the finals, appeared to have more energy and composure.
The half-time score flattered the Roosters. There were few mistakes but the Tricolours made most of them. A high tackle in front of their posts gave the Cowboys a penalty and first points. From the restart, Latrell Mitchell kicked out on the full. It was a sin he would commit twice.
Te Maire Martin made them pay. The young playmaker was languishing in reserve grade for Penrith as late as June, before fielding a call from Townsville. About 24 minutes into the game, he came up with a play that was reminiscent of the man he was replacing. Rival defences are still falling for Thurston's show-and-go 15 years after his debut, but they should also watch out for the one on his understudy.
Martin dummied, squeezed through Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and then stepped the fullback in a play that JT would have been proud of.
Had it not been for a brain explosion from Feldt, the Roosters wouldn't have troubled the scorers before the break. The usually reliable winger rose above the pack to defuse a Luke Keary cross-field kick, positioned himself perfectly … and then inexplicably pulled his hands away from the football. The Steeden dropped into the lap of Mitchell for a try that kept his side in the contest.
However, Feldt more than made up for the gaffe with his spectacular put-down and then Scott Bolton iced the cake with a rare try just before the buzzer.