The Newcastle Knights came back from the dead to record a 24-14 win over the Warriors in front of 16,000 loud Novocastrians on Saturday night.
In an indifferent affair in which Newcastle duo Tyrone Roberts and James McManus and Warriors trio Konrad Hurrell, Thomas Leuluai and Suaia Matagi all left the field at some stage with niggling injures – with rival fullbacks Kurt Gidley and Sam Tomkins having been ruled out before kick-off – Newcastle somehow come out on top when all seemed lost midway through the second half.
The home side appeared out of the contest 15 minutes into the second term with McManus off the field, Sione Mata'utia placed on report for a dangerous throw and David Fa'alogo in the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Down 14-6 after 58 minutes, Dane Gagai sparked a late charge by slicing through three Warriors to record his second try of the afternoon, having scored the Knights' first of the season after a strong break from Akuila Uate.
Newcastle utility Tyler Randell continued the comeback by burying his way over to help his team regain the lead, before an outstanding offload from Joey Leilua set up a 75th-minute try to Newcastle back-rower Robbie Rochow to seal the game.
It was all the Warriors in the latter end of the first half though when a penalty try to Thomas Leuluai in the 27th minute gave the Warriors the lead, with Roberts being placed on report for sliding in with his knees as Leuluai found the tryline.
The Warriors went back-to-back when Ryan Hoffman, on his club debut, scored with 11 seconds remaining in the first half despite Beau Scott doing almost enough to prevent his Origin teammate from getting the ball down.
While the visitors were overrun late in the contest, promising NRL debuts from Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Solomone Kata will be seen as a positive for coach Andrew McFadden while fullback Tuimoala Lolohea's performance at fullback in Sam Tomkins' absence was a highlight.
For Newcastle, the win was their sixth straight victory at Hunter Stadium – their best home winning streak since 2009.
Knights coach Rick Stone said his team's ability to stay in the game despite Fa'alogo's sin-binning helped inspire their fast finish.
"It was a big boost to go well with Dave off the field and being able to get ourselves back into a winning position," Stone said. "The boys took a lot of confidence out of that.
"It was just one of those games though where both teams were a bit scratchy and hopefully the team that wanted it the most got the result. That's what's most pleasing for us."
Newcastle Knights 24 (Dane Gagai 2, Tyler Randell, Robbie Rochow Tries; Tyrone Roberts 3, Tyler Randell Goals) defeated Warriors 14 (Thomas Leuluai, Ryan Hoffman Tries; Shaun Johnson 3 Goals) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 16, 146.