More than 16,000 members and fans packed 1300SMILES Stadium to witness Johnathan Thurston's 250th NRL game and tenacious hooker Jake Granville's hat-trick as the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys snatched a 28-24 victory from the Warriors.
The Cowboys halfback ran out with daughter Frankie to massive cheers that reverberated around the stadium, a reception fit for a champion.
It was hardly the start the Cowboys wanted when Konrad Hurrell picked up a dropped ball from the halfback and ran 30 metres to open the scoring, with Shaun Johnson adding the extras.
It got worse from the kick off with Lachlan Coote sending the ball dead.
The Warriors got a free ride up the field and in that set of six Jonathan Wright found the Cowboys edge wanting and the visitors were up 12-nil after ten minutes.
Coote repeated the same error from the kick off putting the North Queenslanders under the pump, but Johnson’s kick on the last would go dead, handing them a reprieve.
After soaking up plenty of defence the Cowboys finally clicked into gear as Coote made up for his earlier mistakes by busting through the middle and found Jake Granville on his inside to open their account.
Thurston added the extras to put them 12-6 behind at the 21st minute.
A few mistakes were starting to creep into the Warriors game at the 30-minute mark and the North Queenslanders were slowly getting into the match.
They would roll down the field on the back of Matt Scott and Ben Hannant which lead Thurston to send the ball out the back as Coote found Kane Linnett to cross and put them 12-10.
Chad Townsend put the ball out on the full and the Cowboys had one last chance before half time, but an intercept by Hurrell saw him headed for what looked a certain try before Michael Morgan ran him down.
From the next tackle the visitors sent it to the left with Solomone Kata going over to make it 16-10 at the break.
Jake Granville was starting to dart from dummy-half and causing a few headaches around the ruck for the visitors.
They were soon back in their half though after the Warriors made a break up the middle.
Coote would hold out Kata who spilled the ball over the line but a charging Manu Vatuvei proved hard to stop as they added another.
Johnson was again on target with the boot as they got out to 22-10 at the 49th minute.
There were more twists as a Thurston bomb perfectly placed under the sticks caused Lolohea more problems as he again made a meal of it, leaving Coote to fall on the ball and get the Cowboys back into it after Thurston added the conversion.
A penalty right in front for the Warriors halfback put them eight points clear heading into the final 15 minutes of the match.
With 10 on the clock Granville put the Cowboys back in the contest as he poked through to cross from dummy half.
With the conversion the home side were 24-22 with less than 10 to go.
The dummy half was again the scene stealer as with one minute on the clock Granville went over for his third and the Cowboys grabbed the lead for the first time in the match.
Thurston made it 28-24 with a clutch conversion from the right touchline, the Cowboys with their fourth straight win and their second at home.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys 28 (J Granville 3 L Coote K Linnett tries J Thurston 4 goals) def New Zealand Warriors 24 (K Hurrell S Kata M Vatuvei J Wright tries S Johnson 4 goals)