The Warriors' 18-16 trial loss to Melbourne Storm has been soured by serious-looking injuries to two rising front-rowers.
The visitors scored four tries to three in a tight encounter in Palmerston North on Saturday, securing victory through a late try to second-rower Chris Lewis.
While a Melbourne side comprised largely of second-stringers appeared to emerge with no injury concerns, the Warriors faced the worrying sight of young props Jackson Frei and Phillip Makatoa being assisted from the field.
Both appeared to have damaged a knee, the ailments coming in the wake of first grade prop Bunty Afoa having been ruled out for most of the season with an ACL tear.
The Warriors fielded a handful of first-choice players, including their Penrith hooking recruit Wayde Egan, who was handed a small cameo in the second half.
Numerous players from Storm feeder club Sunshine Coast Falcons shone, including half Cooper Johns, the son of former NRL great Matthew Johns who was one of their four try-scorers.
Another of their stand-outs was hulking prop Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, who made good metres and numerous rattling hits.
Johns, hooker Harry Grant and wing Sandor Earl crossed before halftime to put Melbourne 14-12 ahead after the Warriors created tries to halves Paul Turner and Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Winger Setu Tu put the hosts in front midway through an error-prone second half before Lewis's match-winner came via a neat pass from fullback Nicho Hynes.
One of the best duels was at centre in the first half when hard-hitting Storm back Justin Olam marked David Fusitu'a in his first appearance in the position for more than two years.
Fusitu'a has been a prolific try-scorer on the wing in recent seasons but revealed Kearney wants to move him to centre, where he has played sporadically.
The shift resulted in 2019 rookie centre Patrick Herbert getting a run on the wing.