Led by the power of milestone man Josh McGuire and the precision of skipper Michael Morgan, North Queensland came away with a gritty 17-10 victory over the Warriors on Saturday night.
Playing in his 200th NRL game, McGuire got through the full 80 minutes, running for 220 metres and making 42 tackles, while the accurate boot of Jordan Kahu was another key difference for Paul Green's men.
Kahu kicked a penalty either side of half-time and converted both of his side's tries, as they picked up their second victory of the year and their first in Auckland since 2015.
After taking an 8-4 lead into the break, North Queensland fell behind early in the second half, but finished the much better of the two sides, with a converted Justin O'Neill try and late Morgan field goal getting them home.
The loss was the Warriors' first in six games at Mt Smart Stadium and there may be further bad news to come with tryscoring freak David Fusitu'a leaving the field with a rib injury 15 minutes from full-time.
Match: Warriors v Cowboys
Round 6 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Earlier it has been a sloppy last-tackle play from the Cowboys which gifted the Warriors with good field position for their first try, with Ken Maumalo dodging the sideline to cross on 20 minutes.
But six minutes later the visitors hit back when young playmaker Jake Clifford split the line from close range and found Coen Hess for a try.
Morgan seals victory with field goal
The Warriors crossed the line twice in the space of a minute on the half hour, but were denied by bunker on both occasions.
First they were called back for a knock on before Gerard Beale crossed, and then Adam Blair was ruled to have obstructed Kahu in the lead up to Fusitu'a going over.
North Queensland owned possession in the final five minutes of the half, enjoying five-consecutive sets inside the red zone but coming away with only two points via a Kahu penalty on the siren.
Eight minutes into the second spell it was Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who delivered the spark the Warriors were looking for, exposing Clifford with a step before rounding Te Maire Martin.
Chanel Harris-Tavita's conversion gave the Warriors the lead, but in the space of minutes Tuivasa-Sheck went from hero to villain, with his knock on gifting the Cowboys a set inside the attacking 20, which ended in O'Neill scoring to put his side ahead once again.
A pinpoint Morgan kick directly off the scrum was claimed by O'Neill, who shook off a would-be tackle to get up and score on his second effort.
Ahead by four with 14 to go, North Queensland elected to take the two when gifted a penalty from in front of the sticks.
Sitting on a 16-10 lead with seven minutes to play, Morgan stepped up to seal the result with a field goal, giving his side their first win since round one.
Tuivasa-Sheck at his elusive best