North Queensland back-rower Glenn Hall branded Kieran Foran a liar after the young Manly five-eighth claimed he didn't touch the ball in Friday night's contentious match-sealing try to Michael Oldfield.
The winger finished off a scrappy passage of play in which Foran appeared to clearly knock the ball forward from a Daly Cherry-Evans bomb, only for the try to be awarded benefit of the doubt.
That followed another contentious video referee-awarded try to Manly's Jorge Taufua, which had a hint of double movement.
Those decisions led to Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston telling referee Shayne Hayne that his team had been robbed twice - but Foran maintained he never made contact with the Steeden.
"But if he's said that, he's a fibber," Hall, who won a premiership with Manly in 2008 and played alongside Foran in his debut season the following year, told AAP.
"He's a great kid. He's competitive, he tries hard. But he's an honest to God fibber there."
Furious Cowboys players could scarcely believe their season ended in the 22-12 defeat at Allianz Stadium.
There was a genuine belief amongst the players that they could not only topple the Sea Eagles but could go all the way to the big dance - and perhaps even come up with the premiership that eluded them in 2005.
"We were prepared for another two weeks after this that's for sure," Hall said.
"We had a lot more football in us. That's the most disappointing thing.
"It's heartbreaking for it to come down to those decisions. We got beaten by incompetent referees."
Added centre Brent Tate: "You can handle losing, but it's a really bitter pill to swallow that one, I can tell you.
"I don't even want to comment (on the benefit of the doubt tries) on it, because I've got nothing nice to say and I don't want to get the club in trouble."
As video referee pair Steve Clark and Paul Simpkins watched replay after replay, the same thought entered the mind of every Cowboy on the field.
"I started to think 'they're going to bloody give this a try'," said fuming second-rower Gavin Cooper.
"I don't even know what to say. Between three refs they got it wrong again.
"If Manly are honest with themselves, they'll know they got some very lucky calls.
"And at the end of the day it cost us our year."