The Warriors revival in 2019 has hit a speed bump, with an 8-2 loss to Brisbane tonight at Mt Smart Stadium.
In a game of semifinal intensity, the Broncos tackled themselves to a standstill in an impressive defensive performance.
They rode their luck with the offside rule but also repelled everything the Warriors could muster.
The Warriors' lack of X-factor on attack was exposed, as they were often too predictable and also lacked the precision of the past fortnight.
Twice they passed the ball over the sideline in promising positions, while Patrick Herbert missed a penalty from a handy angle in the first half.
The home side was guilty of going too lateral, too early, when a more direct approach may have eventually paid dividends, to break Brisbane's suffocating defence.
Anthony Milford's try midway through the second half broke a 2-2 halftime deadlock and was enough to give the Broncos a deserved win.
"It was a real arm wrestle and we weren't quite good enough execution wise," said Warriors coach Stephen Kearney. "In some key positions we weren't quite at the top of our game."
There was a sombre beginning to the night, with a minute's silence observed for the late Quentin Pongia, who passed away last Saturday after a battle with bowel cancer.
There was also a touch of history, as foundation captain Dean Bell led out the home side, reprising his role of 25 years ago, as the two clubs exchanged gifts in front of an impressive crowd of 17,495.
That was the height of the pleasantries.
Five Warriors smashed into the opening tackle following the kickoff, then big wing Ken Maumalo — in a rare sight this season — was driven back on his first carry.
Both teams had enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks, built on the foundation of impressive defence. That was evident in the first half, especially with the Broncos. The Warriors had a ton of ball — they were camped in enemy territory almost all the second quarter — but couldn't bang down the door. At times, it looked like they could have attacked until midnight but wouldn't have found a way through.
"They had so much possession, so much field position," said Broncos coach Anthony Seibold. "That was the period where we kept ourselves in the game and to go at 2-all was probably a win for us in some ways.
The Warriors had no time and space, and rarely conjured openings. They looked dangerous off kicks, but the visitors defused them.
In contrast, the Broncos looked menacing out wide, with 17 tackle busts in the first half. Alex Glenn was held up over the line twice, Milford zigged and zagged with great and halfback Tom Dearden went close.
Against his old team, Kodi Nikorima was off the mark with a couple of passes but almost created a try with a clever kick, then was centimetres away early in the second half from forcing a Green grubber. He also copped a high hit from Kotoni Staggs.
After 59 minutes, the Broncos finally crossed, as Milford slipped between two defenders close to the line.
The visitors had looked more threatening but were fortunate to be in that part of the field, as the referees missed a Dearden knock-on a metre from his line.
Harris then pushed Jamayne Isaako over the sideline to save a certain try, as the Broncos threatened to extend their lead.
The Warriors had some last-ditch attempts to pull the game out of the fire but didn't come close, in their first tryless match for a year.
Broncos 8 (A Milford try; J Issaako 2 goals)
Warriors 2 (P Herbert goal)