The Warriors have kept themselves on the threshold of the NRL top eight after downing a State of Origin-depleted North Queensland side 35-18 in Auckland today.
The Warriors' win was founded on a fast start and a strong finish, but they also had some anxious moments in the middle stages against a spirited opposition.
The Cowboys had four of their big names - Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Brent Tate and James Tamou - missing because of Origin duty and they also lost halfback Ray Thompson to a shoulder injury midway through the opening spell.
The visitors fought well to stay in the contest until a late Warriors double strike put the result beyond doubt.
Down 22-6, the visitors grabbed tries on either side of halftime to centre Ashley Graham - his 15th of the season - and second rower Gavin Cooper to close to within four points with half an hour to go.
In a frantic finish before a 15,274 crowd at Mt Smart Stadium, the Warriors pulled away 12 minutes from time through a Nathan Friend score.
The hooker, in his first match back after two months out with a broken jaw, forced his way over from dummy half, twisting in the tackle and dotting down by the posts.
Another dummy half try, from Lewis Brown, after a big break by Shaun Johnson was cut down by Matt Bowen, sealed the victory, before James Maloney added a field goal for good measure.
The result kept the Warriors two points outside the top eight, while the Cowboys remain just inside.
It looked to be one-sided as the Warriors sprinted out of the blocks and were up 16-0 at quicker than a point a minute after their centres shared three tries.
Ben Henry got the first via a Johnson break, before Konrad Hurrell finished off a well-structured attack for his ninth try in his debut season.
From the kick-off, the Warriors surged back down field and, when a Maloney bomb fell loose to Kevin Locke, the fullback put Henry over for his second.
North Queensland struck back through centre Kane Linnett, who ran a great line to be put through a hole.
But a superb short ball from the mercurial Feleti Mateo sent prop Jacob Lillyman over to restore the 16-point margin.
The Warriors travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Titans next Saturday and will need to treat every game as a knock out to stay with the top eight.
The Cowboys will have their second bye next week before the run in to the finals.
NZ Warriors 35 (B.Henry 2 tries, K.Hurrell, J.Lilyman, N.Friend, L.Brown tries; J.Maloney 5 goals; J.Maloney FG)
North Queensland Cowboys 18 (K.Linnett, A.Graham, G.Cooper tries; M.Bowen 3 goals)