NZ Warriors have survived a nailbiting encounter with the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart on Friday, escaping with a 21-20 win courtesy of Shaun Johnson's clutch golden point field goal.
Up 10 points with less than two minutes to play, the Warriors seemed assured of victory, until two late tries in a remarkable Raiders foray sent the contest into extra time - Jarrod Croker's game-winning conversion attempt with time expired drifting mercifully wide.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man, and - for the second time this season - Johnson stepped up to slot a 30m drop goal in their first possession of added time to hand his team their fifth win in six games and avoid what would have been a devastating defeat.
The victory is the Warriors' third straight and leapfrogs them above the Raiders and into third in the competition standings by way of their superior points differential.
It wasn't their most eye-pleasing effort of the year, but banking another two competition points against a top-four side - albeit less than comprehensively than it had appeared 160-odd seconds earlier - is another heartening result for Andrew Webster's side, particularly after being on the wrong side of both territory and possession and scoring three tries to the Raiders' four.
The final two minutes aside, the result was founded on the Warriors' now-trademark defence, which stood up repeatedly in the face of sustained tryline pressure from a Raiders outfit that had won 10 of their last 12 games.
The team will bank another pair of points for next week's bye, before tackling a favourable schedule down the home stretch that could put them in position to threaten the apex of the ladder.
Prop Addin Fonua-Blake led the way yet again for the Warriors, bulldozing his way to a game-high 188 running metres, closely followed by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (177m), who was immense against his former team. Jackson Ford continued to impress, making a team-high 40 tackles.
The Warriors opened the scoring on the back of an obstruction penalty against the Raiders after just four minutes, with Marata Niukore immediately making his mark on return from suspension by running a perfect line off Wayde Egan's shoulder to reach out and touch down from his first touch in three weeks.
Fundamental Raiders errors ensured the chances kept coming for the Warriors, with one golden opportunity squandered when Marcelo Montoya was set free on the right edge but Luke Metcalf slightly mistimed his run in support and the ball inside went to ground with the black dot beckoning.
But the visitors still enjoyed the upper hand in possession and territory, and eventually made that count with an opportunistic try in the 19th minute. Niukore couldn't hold on to a low pass from Johnson allowing Hudson Young to scoop up the loose ball and run 40m to accept a gift-wrapped try to tie the score with a quarter played.
A 28th minute penalty right in front of the posts was too straightforward for the Warriors to turn down, as Johnson accepted the two points to edge his side back in front.
A dropped Johnson bomb afforded the Warriors more optimal field position, only for Metcalf to drop the first pass of the set cold - adding mark to the team's poor first-half completion rate.
Niukore's return was shortlived, as a failed HIA brought a premature end to his night after just half an hour.
Dylan Walker's outrageous offload to send a storming Addin Fonua-Blake across the chalk momentarily had the Warriors' faithful on their feet, until referee Todd Smith spoiled the party by ruling the pass forward.
More Warriors ill discipline handed the Raiders another chance to strike late in the half. Jamal Fogarty seemed to have laid on a surefire try on a platter for Sebastian Kris, before Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made a miraculous defensive play to knock the ball out of his grasp before he was able to get it to ground.
To rub salt into that wound, the Warriors marched back down the other end to claim one final try in the dying stages of the half on the back of a seven-tackle set. Johnson's sweeping run flummoxed Canberra's goal-line defence, opening a sliver of space for Nicoll-Klokstad to sneak through and dot down against his former side.
That try sent the Warriors into the sheds with a 14-6 advantage, despite having been down on both the territory (39 percent) and possession (47 percent) ledgers. Neither coach would have been pleased with his team's completion rates, both hovering around 68 percent.
The teams traded clinical sets to open the second half, before tempers flared after Josh Curran's monster hit on Young to force a knock-on.
Corey Horsburgh took exception to an extra chat from Curran and came from the other side of the field to flatten the Warriors forward, and was ultimately lucky to escape without a 10-minute spell in the bin.
But the Raiders were made to pay anyway, as the Warriors exploited Raiders flimsy right edge from the ensuing penalty for Johnson and Rocco Berry to put Watene-Zelezniak on the runway for take-off, the wing soaring over for his 14th try in nine games.
Canberra's woes were instantly compounded by Fogarty sending his restart out on the full, with the Warriors mounting another sustained tryline assault during which only some excellent scrambling defence denied them another try.
The raid ended with Johnson accepting an easy two points from a penalty to extend the Warriors lead to 20-6 with 57 minutes played.
It was the Warriors turn to stand up defensively, repelling four consecutive Raiders sets before the pressure took its toll, as Jordan Rapana leapt to reel in Fogarty's pinpoint bomb for his side's second try to reduce their deficit to 10 points in the 65th minute.
Johnson's kicking game and his teammate's determined chases ensured the Warriors played the final stanza of the contest at the right end of the field.
But Rapana's try and Croker's sideline conversion with just a minute to play gave the Raiders a glimmer of hope. Then with 48 seconds to play, Hopoate was freed down the right edge, finding Jack Wighton inside to swandive over in the corner in a 70m movement.
Warriors fans held their breath as Croker's conversion from the left sideline sailed right to send the match into golden point, when Johnson wasted no time in nailing a 35m effort to spare his team's blushes.
NZ Warriors 21 (Niukore 4min, Nicoll-Klokstad, Watene-Zelezniak tries; Johnson 4 goals, field goal) Canberra Raiders 20 (Young, Rapana, Whitehead, Wighton tries; Croker 2 goals)