The Brisbane Broncos' winger was striding towards the try-line in the 44th minute when Drinkwater led with his shoulder in an attempt to halt the barnstorming Oates, saving the try, however it resulted in Oates being taken from the field, and Drinkwater being sent to the sin bin.
Oates is now expected to miss as much as two months of the season with the facial injury.
The MRC have slapped the fullback with a grade three shoulder charge, meaning the 25-year-old will miss three games with an early guilty plea, or four matches if he fails in contesting the hit at the judiciary.
Unfortunately for Oates and the Cowboys, it wasn't the only piece of foul play that occurred for the Brisbane flanker, after Peta Hiku was also charged for a crusher tackle on the winger earlier in the match.
Hiku, who filled in at fullback in the second-half, got his technique wrong whilst tackling Oates in the 28th minute, coming down on his neck, and earning a grade two charge for the incident.
The right centre will sit out the next two games if he takes the early guilt plea, or risk an extra match if he takes it to the judiciary.
It leaves North Queensland likely without two of their back five next weekend, opening the door for the likes of Tom Chester and Brendan Elliott to come into the side.
Maika Sivo was the only other star charged from Friday night, hit with a grade one dangerous contact charge from the very first minute of their clash against Cronulla following an incident with Braydon Trindall.
The Fijian international has only been slapped with a fine, $1,000 for an early guilty plea or $1,500 if he's found guilty by the tribunal.