Warriors 21Bulldogs 14
The New Zealand Warriors are within striking distance of the NRL's top eight after a 21-14 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs.
An unspectacular but solid performance has temporarily moved the Warriors into ninth on the ladder, and improved their chances of a first finals appearance since 2011.
The result continues the Warriors' strong performances during State of Origin season. A scheduling quirk they regularly make the most of; the Warriors have now won 21 of their 28 games played in that time period over the past four years.
Of late, it has been a portion of the season which gives the Warriors some semblance of hope; hope that is usually swiftly culled by a poor finish to the season.
Whether that is a template of things to come in 2017 is yet to be decided, but the Warriors did enough to overcome a Bulldogs side which has severely lacked offensive punch all season.
The Bulldogs are the worst attacking side in the competition, averaging just 13.9 points per game, and failing to score more than 24 points so far this campaign.
As a result, there was little doubt that the Warriors' defensive line would hold relatively steady. Instead, what was questionable is whether they could generate enough attacking spark to break down the Bulldogs.
In the end, it took a moment of magic and a Bulldogs sin-binning, as the Warriors improved their impressive record at Mount Smart Stadium to 6-1 this season.
The highlight of the night came from Warriors winger Ken Maumalo, who beat four defenders on a 70 metre sprint to the line. Maumalo was taken to the ground by two attempted tacklers, but wriggled free, fending off another attempted tackler before stepping inside Will Hopoate to cap off a stunning solo effort.
The Bulldogs' attacking intent, meanwhile, didn't bode much promise when they opted for an early penalty when camped on the Warriors line.
That was all for the early running, until seconds before halftime when Bulldogs second rower Josh Jackson was sent to the sin-bin for blatantly delaying a Shaun Johnson play-the-ball.
Johnson kicked the resulting penalty, and with the Bulldogs a man down when play resumed, Johnson then turned creator with a nifty grubber which spun into the path of Blake Ayshford for the Warriors' second try.
A suspected dislocated shoulder to Issac Luke complicated matters for the Warriors, and the Bulldogs started to build pressure. Mistakes crept into the Warriors' game, and the Bulldogs' territory paid off when Raymond Faitala-Mariner crossed against his former club.
However, just when their lead looked tenuous, the Warriors rebounded. They had two tries ruled out by the bunker, before a Johnson field goal extended their lead to a safe distance.
Any chance of a Bulldogs comeback was snuffed out with seven minutes to go, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck crossing the line to secure a much-needed victory.