The Wests Tigers confirmed their title as the NRL's most perplexing team, mounting a spirited second-half comeback without skipper Robbie Farah to defeat the Warriors 24-22 at a packed Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.
After a lethargic opening in which they looked like they desperately missed the stability and creative input of Farah, who is in camp with NSW ahead of Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Melbourne, the Tigers overturned a 10-0 halftime deficit to pile on four tries.
They had to endure a nerve-wracking ending, but the match was sealed when fullback Tim Moltzen ghosted through for a try in the 78th minute.
Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell scored a consolation try in the 80th minute, his second of the game, to narrow the final scoreline.
The home side did it without Chris Lawrence as well, with the makeshift five-eighth succumbing to a hamstring injury at halftime.
Beau Ryan kick-started the comeback when he capitalised on a Manu Vatuvei error to open the Tigers account six minutes after the break.
Ryan had put in an innocuous grubber which Vatuvei made a meal of, before the Tigers winger toed the ball ahead again and dove on it for the try.
As quick as a flash, the home side found themselves in the lead when from the following set after the kick-off they marched upfield and Benji Marshall put in a perfectly weighted kick for Lote Tuqiri to score his second try of the year.
Marshall completed the hot start to the second half with a sideline conversion to give the Tigers a 12-10 lead.
It looked a completely different Tigers outfit to the one that had bumbled their way to a 10-0 halftime deficit, care of tries to Warriors duo Bill Tupou and Ben Henry.
The match swung back in the Warriors favour in the 54th minute when five-eighth James Maloney, who had a fine game, latched onto a Moltzen grubber and started a 90-metre movement downfield which ended with Hurrell outpacing Marshall for a converted try to reclaim a 16-12 lead.
Ten minutes later, the Tigers found themselves back in front when powerful bench utility Matt Utai, playing his 150th NRL game, burrowed over from close range on his hands and knees to lock up the scores at 16-16.
Once again Marshall converted from the sideline, giving the Tigers a two-point lead that would eventually be the difference.
Marshall said it was the team's best win of the season but insisted they had still not fully turned the corner following their dismal opening five-game losing streak earlier this year.
"We've still got a lot to work on," Marshall said.
"Our defence has been pretty outstanding, I think, but our attack's probably not as good as it has been the past few seasons.
"... These big games, games without Robbie there ... you gotta get the two points any way you can."
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens admitted the team's current four-game winning streak, featuring three victories by a combined margin of four points, was in stark contrast to their trademark attacking style.
"They haven't been classic Wests Tigers ... We've had to grind the win out," Sheens said.
"Earlier in the year we were criticised for not grinding it out.
"Now of course we're being criticised for not being Wests Tigers."
Warriors captain Simon Mannering targeted his side's "soft" start to the second half as a missed opportunity.
"This one was a big opportunity for us, going into the bye, to get a bit of momentum."We didn't play that well in the first half but we led at halftime and had every chance in the game to get the two points and just got soft at the start of the second half."