Warriors post gritty NRL win over Cowboys

The Warriors have regained their place in the NRL's top eight with a gritty four-point win over North Queensland.

KODI NIKORIMA.
KODI NIKORIMA. Picture: Racing and Sports

The Warriors have withstood a fierce second-half fightback from North Queensland to regain their place in the NRL's top eight with a thrilling 24-20 win over the Cowboys.

The Warriors were kept scoreless after going to the break with a 20-point lead but surged from 12th to seventh on the ladder after holding on at Central Coast Stadium.

The victory not only reignited the Warriors' finals hopes but also burst North Queensland's bubble after three straight wins and reminded Cowboys coach Todd Payten just what he walked out on.

In his first meeting with the Warriors since heading north at the end of last season, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kodi Nikorima put the Cowboys to the sword with a first-half masterclass.

The Warriors, still calling Australia home after more than a year shut out from playing in New Zealand because of the global pandemic, honoured their families in an emotional tribute before kick-off on Sunday.

The gesture clearly stirred the league's most mercurial line-up into action, with the Warriors intent on putting on a show from the get-go.

Nikorima and Tuivasa-Sheck cut to the Cowboys to pieces, featuring in the game's first three tries as the Warriors raced to an 18-0 lead in as many minutes.

Nikorima bagged the opening four-pointer following some typically dazzling footwork from Tuivasa-Sheck, who then beat two defenders to put Rocco Berry over shortly after.

When Ben Murdoch-Masila touched down after Nikorima burst through the middle, suddenly the Cowboys found themselves trailing by 18 points for the second week running.

Then by 20 after Adam Pompey crossed on the stroke of halftime to give the Warriors a 24-4 buffer.

But the lead didn't look enough after a second-half double from Murray Taulagi plus Scott Drinkwater's 48th-minute effort that reduced the deficit to just four points with 12 minutes remaining.

Alas, Payten's men were unable to replicate their stunning comeback win from 18 points down against Canberra last week as the Warriors held on for only their second win from their past five starts.