New Zealand Warriors 10
North Queensland Cowboys 17
If you peel it back to its bare bones, the concept of rugby league is simple; hold onto the football, and put points on the board when the opportunities are there to win.
But as the Warriors blew chance after chance early against the North Queensland Cowboys, it wouldn't have come as much of a surprise for their fans if they were unable to put the 15th-placed visitors away.
That proved to be the case, as the Cowboys claimed a 17-10 win at Mt Smart Stadium.
"One thing that stood out tonight was the execution," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said. "If you're not executing the final pass, we got pulled back a couple of times ... that sort of stuff builds up and I think we frustrated ourselves into making it worse and we lacked a bit of composure."
Adding salt into the wound, winger David Fusitu'a looks likely to miss their next match against the Melbourne Storm after suffering a rib injury in the loss.
For the most part, the Warriors looked confident and convincing. Their defence was efficient and effective while their attack looked dangerous more often than not. What was also promising for the Warriors was seeing Issac Luke running and kicking from dummy half with confidence and young half Chanel Harris-Tavita happy to shoulder the pressure of being the go-to man for the team's last play options.
However, a woeful error rate was a cause for concern with 13 errors allowing the Cowboys to stay in the fight when they should have been put against the ropes in the opening 20 minutes.
"We just didn't execute well, and it frustrated the group," Kearney said.
From the opening whistle the Warriors set the tone with some strong sets, coupled with three penalties inside of the opening 15 minutes, putting them in position to strike. But when the tryline was in sight, the hosts lost their composure.
Committing four errors inside of 15 minutes, two of which came in prime field position, the Warriors were tempting fate. However, the Cowboys weren't much better in that respect and on the 20-minute mark Ken Maumalo opened the scoring to end a set gifted to the Warriors by a Cowboys error.
In the opening exchanges, lazy defence wasn't a factor in the Warriors' performance, but it became a problem midway through the half when Cowboys half Jake Clifford skipped past an ambitious attempted tackle before sending Coen Hess over the line. The ensuing conversion from Jordan Kahu gave the Cowboys a two-point cushion after 26 minutes, which he extended to four points on the halftime hooter after a late penalty in front of the posts.
The Warriors wouldn't have felt like they deserved to be behind on the scoreboard at the break, and it wasn't long into the second half that they were back on top courtesy of a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck try.
But it was a case of hero one moment, villain the next for the Warriors captain as he knocked on in attempting to collect a punt downfield, which led to a Justin O'Neill try - giving the visitors the lead once more.
The Warriors pushed hard to find their way back onto the scoresheet, but errors continued to plague them into the night and often proved costly at the other end of the paddock.
After another Kahu penalty and a Michael Morgan field goal, the Warriors faced a seven-point deficit with five minutes left in the match. It proved to be enough for the Cowboys, who left Mt Smart Stadium with just their second win of the season.
Warriors 10 (Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita con)
Cowboys 17 (Coen Hess, Justin O'Neill tries; Jordan Kahu 2 cons, 2 pens; Michael Morgan field goal)