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It wasn't pretty but the Warriors hung on to claim a gritty 23-16 NRL win over the Cowboys in Townsville last night.
A field goal to halfback Shaun Johnson in the final minute secured the Warriors back-to-back wins for the first time since they beat the Cowboys in their round five encounter in April, and ended a rollercoaster midseason run that had them losing four of their previous eight matches.
Three tries in nine minutes to Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Solomone Kata gave the Warriors a commanding 18-2 lead midway through the second quarter before North Queensland hit back with a try to left wing Javid Bowen narrowing the margin to 18-8 at halftime.
Both sides traded points points in the second half, with Cowboys right wing Kyle Feldt scoring twice, but a pair of penalty goals to Johnson kept the Warriors clear before his one-pointer at the death sealed their sixth away win of the season.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney will be pleased his side got the job done with next week's representative bye round expected to impact on their roster ahead of a testing run over the next month against fellow top eight sides Cronulla (home), Penrith (away), Brisbane (away) and Melbourne (home).
North Queensland opened the scoring with a penalty goal to captain Johnathan Thurston giving him 2100 career points, before the Warriors took control with Tuivasa-Sheck sparking a three-try blitz in his return following a week out with an ankle injury.
The Kiwi international provided the last pass for wing Maumalo and Kata to cross down the left edge and in between ran 75m and beat Cowboys fullback Michael Morgan to score his first career try against the Cowboys.
The Warriors clocked off and the Cowboys kept themselves within range with tries either side of the break helping them back to 20-16, but Johnson's kicking proved the difference.
The result consolidates the Warriors' place in the top four ahead of their next game against the Sharks at Mt Smart Stadium on June 29.
NZ Warriors 23 (Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Shaun Johnson 5 goals, field goal)
North Queensland 16 (Kyle Feldt 2, Javid Bowen tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals)