The New Zealand Warriors made the most of a perfect start to beat the Gold Coast Titans 24-20 on Friday night at Cbus Super Stadium.
After losing their past two games against Brisbane and Melbourne, the Warriors got back into finals contention with their fifth win of the season.
Titans lock Jai Arrow was assisted from the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury 10 minutes from half-time. Queensland rep Arrow didnt return and will be battling to recover in time for game two of the Origin series on June 23 in Perth.
The Warriors actually trailed by two with 15 minutes remaining but they scored two tries and did just enough to hang on as the Titans pressed their line in the closing seconds.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney made a key pre-game switch, elevating Karl Lawton into the starting side at the expense of veteran hooker Isaac Luke.
The move paid immediate dividends, as Lawton punished the home teams lazy defence with a try two minutes into the game. Kodi Nikorima converted for a 6-0 lead before the Warriors stretched it to 10-0 with winger Ken Maumalos 11th-minute try, leaving the Titans with plenty of adjustments to make.
The Titans opened their account with Ryley Jacks converted try and forged ahead 12-10 when Tyrone Roberts converted Brian Kellys try from out wide 13 minutes from half-time.
A penalty goal tied it up at 12-all and thats how it stayed until half-time.
It took 25 minutes of the second half before Roberts broke the deadlock with a penalty goal right in front.
But the lead was short-lived, as Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scored a go-ahead try.
Isaac Luke converted for an 18-14 lead before Maumalos second try in the corner sealed victory.
AJ Brimson crossed with five minutes to go to set up a nailbiting finish but the Warriors hung on.