It could have been a season-defining win but instead a horror night with the boot from James Maloney saw the Warriors fall 10-8 to Broncos at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Coming into the clash with two straight wins and seeking a third for the first time this season, the Warriors went agonisingly close but came away from Brisbane with nothing.
That may have been a different story had Maloney converted any of his three goals or if the Warriors' wild final play been aided by a bit of luck. But Maloney missed and then saw his last-gasp crossfield kick batted out of play with time up on the clock.
With their record falling to eight wins and nine losses, this was not the way the Warriors wanted to start the run-in to the playoffs.
Last week's victory in the Gold Coast propelled them into the top eight and they would have been looking to kick-start a winning run akin to last year, where seven wins in nine games saw them safely into the playoffs.
But a full-strength Broncos side rebounded from two defeats in their last three games to consolidate their position inside the top four.
A measured start had both sides retaining the ball well in the wet conditions, before the Broncos took the lead in fortuitous circumstances in the seventh minute.
On their first visit to the Warriors' end, Corey Norman's grubber took a favourable deflection off the boot of Shaun Johnson and the five-eighth gratefully gathered the rebound to put Brisbane in front.
And it was soon 8-0 after a mental error from the resulting kick-off saw several Warriors in front of the kicker and saw the home side add two more.
The Warriors were the Broncos' equals for the first 15 minutes everywhere except the scoreboard - but they soon changed that.
First, Kevin Locke snuck through the slightest of holes between Peter Wallace and Justin Hodges before busting the tackle of his opposite number and rival for the Kiwis' fullback jersey Josh Hoffman.
Then, the Warriors forced a repeat set five minutes before the break and were able to tie it up thanks to some clever play from Nathan Friend. The hooker, starting from dummy-half in front of the posts, utilised two wrap-around passes to free Manu Vatuvei on the left wing and the returning winger slid over for his 98th Warriors try.
There was still enough time in the half for Maloney to edge the visitors in front, but he hooked wide an elementary penalty to compound two missed conversions.
The conditions only worsened over the break and the opening exchanges of the second spell featured more physicality than flair. Both sides were defending resolutely and keeping errors to a minimum, which meant the Broncos had an easy decision when Russel Packer was penalised in the tackle.
Corey Parker dutifully showed Maloney where the uprights were to put Brisbane back in front with 25 minutes to play.
The Warriors had their chances, forcing consecutive drop-outs and going close on another couple of occasions, but too often the wrong final option was chosen and the attack amounted to nothing.
That was no more evident than on the Warriors' last good chance. After a Brisbane knock on gave the Warriors the scrum feed deep in Broncos' territory, Friend was guilty of forcing a pass to Ben Matulino on the fourth tackle and the big prop failed to hold on.
Broncos 10 (Norman try; Parker 2 pens, con)
Warriors 8 (Locke, Vatuvei tries)
- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris