Rangy forward Jack Murchie scored his first NRL try - and then a second - to guide NZ Warriors to a 20-14 victory over Canterbury Bulldogs on Sunday.
Their sixth win over a rollercoaster coronavirus-affected season sees them still with a sniff at a playoff spot, bunched on the competition table with Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra Dragons and Manly Sea Eagles four points out of the top eight.
Canterbury dominated early, with tries to Nick Meaney and Kieran Foran establishing a 10-point first-half advantage, before the Warriors rallied.
Former Warriors half Foran grabbed his try, after fellow Kiwi Jeremy Marshall-King darted from dummy half and found acres of space up the centre of the field, before finding his teammate in support.
Before halftime, Nikorima and Murchie gave their side some hope, when the former kicked high towards the goalpost and the latter rose higher than anyone else, snatching the ball above the pack and falling to earth to score.
Ahead 10-6 at the break, the Bulldogs stretched their lead soon after the restart, when Will Hopoate found the tryline, before the Warriors hit their stride.
Winger Adam Pompey found space down the right for his try, before Nikorima and Murchie combined again for the go-ahead try. Nikorima darted through a gap and drew the last defender, before setting his second-rower loose for his second of the night.
Nikorima's conversion put the Warriors ahead for the first time and they could have gone further ahead, if debutant half Paul Turner had secured either of his scoring opportunities.
Turner seemed to have his first try, when he split the defence and tried to step the last line, losing his footing and eventually bouncing over the line. Replays showed a double movement, while moments later, a second try was disallowed, when forward Isaiah Papali'i was shown to impede a would-be tackler.
The Warriors eventually extended their advantage, when Nikorima poked his nose through a half gap and when it closed, he found Roger Tuivasa-Sheck steaming off his shoulder. The skipper had too much gas for the Bulldogs defenders, capping a night when he logged 338 running metres.
Canterbury were still within a converted try and squandered several chances to tie the game up late. Nikorima's attempted drop goal should have put the contest beyond the Bulldog's reach, but he somehow missed from point blank range and his team hung on.
Their playoff hopes hinge on victory against Newcastle Knights next Saturday.
Bulldogs 14 (Meaney, Foran & Hopoate tries; Meaney conversion) Warriors 20 (Murchie 2, Pompey & Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Nikorima 2 conversions)