Blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell scored two tries as the Warriors beat high-flying Penrith 30-20 to climb into the NRL top eight for the first time this season.
The Warriors could slip to ninth if Melbourne defeat St George Illawarra on Monday night but the victory in Auckland on Sunday was another step in the right direction for a side that have won sixth of their last eight matches.
The Warriors had to repel a determined challenge by the Panthers in a high-energy clash and victory wasn’t secured until halfback Shaun Johnson scored a trademark intercept try with six minutes to go.
“You don’t have your perfect games all the time, but we’re finding a way to win at the moment, which is pleasing,” coach Andrew McFadden said.
“We’ve been competing for 80 minutes for the majority of the time.
“We’ve been working really hard for each other and you need to do that if you want to win games like that.”
The Warriors head into a bye with momentum from getting past two top-eight sides in successive weeks after their success over Brisbane.
“We need to keep winning,” said McFadden.
“It’s so congested at the top end of the table that if you have a couple of lean weeks where you don’t get the points, you can slip down really quickly.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said his side’s poor start to both spells proved significant as the second-placed Panthers’ five-game winning streak was ended.
“The way we played the second part of the first half was pretty much how we wanted to play,” he said.
“Then we came out in the second half and we just couldn’t build any pressure.”
The Panthers were without five-eighth Jamie Soward after halftime because of a leg injury suffered in a tackle.
Soward, along with fellow playmaker Peter Wallace, had been influential in helping the visitors come back from an early 12-0 deficit to lead 16-12 at the break.
Cleary was philosophical about the impact of Soward’s absence.
“Obviously, it would have been handy having him out there to give Peter another option in the kicking game,” he said
“You have to deal with those sorts of things.”
The Warriors made a dominant start with tries to Hurrell and winger Manu Vatuvei.
But Penrith’s expansive game plan and an ability to keep the ball alive produced tries in the space of four minutes to Soward and winger Josh Mansour.
They hit the front just before halftime when fullback Matt Moylan latched on to Wallace’s pinpoint kick into the in-goal.
The Warriors struck back early in the second spell through skipper Simon Mannering, before Hurrell completed his double.
Livewire Penrith hooker James Segeyaro touched down with 15 minutes to bring them back to within four points.
But Johnson settled the contest by intercepting a Segeyaro pass and sprinting 50 metres to score.