Holmes will be sent for scans on Saturday to reveal the extent of his injury and Cowboys coach Paul Green shed little light on its seriousness.
The Warriors notched a wild 37-26 win, their second in three matches since being stranded in Australia to allow the season to reboot.
Holmes was hurt inside the first five minutes and managed to score a try while limping through the next 20. He added to Green’s woes on a night in which representative prop Jordan McLean (calf) also didn’t return in the second half.
Warriors veteran Peta Hiku made up for a ghastly first-half error, which led to a Cowboys try, with a hat-trick of four-pointers on the same night that Green chalked up the record for most matches in charge of North Queensland.
“Firstly, it was good to get the win,” Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said. “We were all disappointed with last week’s performance.
“We always had confidence in our ability and we looked at what we did well against the Dragons and what we didn’t do well against the Panthers. This competition is all about building momentum and possession is king at the moment.”
Holmes’ injury was tempered by the outstanding NRL debut of 18-year-old flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who switched to fullback in the absence of Holmes.
But Tabuai-Fidow’s cameo did little to take the shine off Kodi Nikorima’s five-star effort, less than 24 hours after his old club Brisbane slumped to a third straight loss since the competition restart at the same ground.
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At one stage the Kiwi international outrageously batted the ball on one-handed for Adam Pompey’s crucial second-half try, menacing the Cowboys defence with almost every touch.
“It was a real tit-for-tat game, they’d score and we’d score,” Green said. “The bottom line is we’ve just got to be tougher mentally defensively. Five tries out of seven were on the last tackle. If the game only went for five tackles we’d be a good side.”
If nothing else, this match showed these Warriors aren’t the Warriors of old. Away from home and everyone’s second team this season, they proved last week’s caning at the hands of Penrith can be forgotten quicker than in previous years.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 37 (Peta Hiku 3, Patrick Herbert, Eliesa Katoa, Adam Pompey, Karl Lawton tries; Kodi Nikorima 4 goals, field goal) defeated NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 26 (Kyle Feldt 2, Valentine Holmes, Justin O’Neill, Francis Molo tries; Feldt 3 goals)
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.