Illawarra were defeated 21-14 by Intrust Super Premiership competition leaders the New Zealand Warriors at WIN Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Illawarra had a dream start when hooker Siliva Havili burrowed over close to the line in the opening 10 minutes to give the hosts the early advantage.
A short while later winger Patrick Herbert collected a neat cross field kick from halfback Shaun Nona to give his side a 12-0 lead.
The Warriors were starved of possession in the first quarter, but found some spark from interchange forward Nathaniel Roache who barged over for the visitors first of the afternoon.
The Warriors crossed the stripe again through winger Fetalaiga Piaiga just before half-time though Illawarra would hold a 12-8 lead at the half-time break.
Nona added an extra two points to extend Illawarra's lead to six when five-eighth Jack Payne was on the end of a shoulder charge.
Poor discipline from Illawarra allowed the Warriors to claw their way back into the game with consecutive tries to Samuel Cook and Jezz Tevega.
With Mason Lino converting both four pointers, it gave the visitors a 20-14 lead in the final 15 minutes.
A sweetly struck field goal from Lino in the final five minutes put the final nail in Illawarra's coffin.
New Zealand Warriors 21 (Fetalaiga Piaiga, Samuel Cook, Jezz Tevega tries; Mason Lino 2 goals; Mason Lino 1 field goal) defeated Illawarra 14 (Siliva Havili, Patrick Herbert tries; Shaun Nona 3 goals) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong. Half-time: Illawarra 12-8.