Coach Anthony Griffin took a sizeable risk by sacking three Broncos players for drinking while their teammates were slaving away in Origin III.
And the risk paid off spectacularly at Suncorp Stadium, a man shuffled into the centres to replace the dumped Jack Reed scoring two late tries to secure the Broncos’ first win in four matches against the Warriors.
Dale Copley, 22, crossed in the 64th and 67th minutes to win Brisbane a match they trailed 12-0 after 10 minutes before 37,082 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The other dumped players were Corey Oates and Daniel Vidot; their replacements also excelled in a thrill-a-minute 28-22 victory. It was reported before kick-off a senior player had reported the trio for drinking on Origin night a week and a half ago.
Saturday’s result keeps the Broncos in the top eight and interrupts a compelling late-season charge by Andrew McFadden’s Aucklanders. A frantic first half saw the Warriors lead 12-0 after 10 minutes, only to trail 16-12 at halftime.
Captain Simon Mannering waltzed over in the fourth minute, with Shaun Johnson converting. The portents for the home team were even worse when Ben Barba was penalised for holding back Sam Tomkins soon afterwards with another touchdown by the Aucklanders in the offing.
But the England custodian managed to cross the stripe anyway, diving over from dummy half in the 10th minute after second-rower Ben Henry went so close it must have been tempting to reach out and commit a double movement. It took six minutes for Brisbane to peg one back.
Captain Corey Parker offloaded for Ben Hannant to storm over just to the left of the posts, with Parker snaffling an easy conversion.
But the Warriors remained the dominant side. There as a dust-up between Sam Thaiday and Manu Vatuvei when the former lifted the latter’s leg in the 20th minute.
And a Josh Hoffman fumble in the Broncos in-goal should have given Henry a 25th-minute try but he couldn’t quite crawl to the Steeden in time.
Hoffman made up for his error with a superb effort to roll Tomkins onto his back as he crossed for what looked like a certain Warriors four points not long afterwards.
And after Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell was reported for a high tackle in the 27th minute, Brisbane made the most of their opportunities in the run home to the break.
Halfback Ben Hunt threw a dummy and skirted in-field to score to the left of the posts in the 33rd minute and winger Jordan Kahu beat a poor David Fusitua tackle two minutes short of the break to grab the lead for the visitors.
It took the Warriors just three minutes of the second half to level the scores, Henry crossing in broken play after Tomkins regathered a bomb.
The deadlock lasted just four minutes, when Parker landed a penalty goal for 18-16. Vatuvei had to clean up a Barba kick on his own tryline not long afterwards.
At the other end of the field, however, Henry’s exquisite footwork took him past three defenders to cross in the south-western corner. Video referees Steve Chiddy and Steve Folkes discounted an obstruction and Johnson goaled for a 22-18 lead.
It was Copley who delivered a one-two blow to the jugular of the Warriors. He plucked up a loose ball from a Parker off-load and set sail upfield, Tomkins failing in a valiant attempt to bring him down short of the north-western cornerpost.
Parker’s missed conversion left the scores tied once more. Side-to-side attack from the hosts resulted in Copley skipping through stretched defence to score, with Parker making it 28-22.