Nine months of frustration are finally over for Tariq Sims after the blockbusting forward helped inspire the North Queensland Cowboys' come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Brisbane Broncos in Mount Isa.
Teammate Robert Lui was also rewarded for his patience, playing his first match for North Queensland since last year's opening round.
Sims relished the run against the Broncos in the Queensland outpost in his first hit-out since suffering an horrific double lower-leg fracture in round 11 last year.
It was identical to the freak fracture Sims suffered in 2011.
Sims tried to make up for lost time on Saturday in three damaging bursts, sparking a Cowboys outfit that scored four tries to one to over-run a 20-6 halftime deficit.
The matchwinner came in the dying minutes when prop Ricky Thorby stormed over after a smart dummy half play by Blake Leary.
Lui also did his best to exorcise his demons with a return to remember.
The former Wests Tigers star ended a long exile stemming from a domestic assault charge.
Lui was sacked by Wests Tigers after being charged with assaulting his partner following a Mad Monday drinking session in 2011.
He was stood down by the NRL last year after pleading guilty to the offence in court.
Lui is now vying for the halfback jersey at North Queensland with incumbent No.7 Michael Morgan who put in a stirring effort as stand-in captain.
The highlight was a solo try on quarter-time from a clever chip and chase.
Coach Neil Henry is expected to run the rule over Lui and Morgan again in their next trial against the Dragons at Cairns next weekend.
Meanwhile, a serious knee injury to impact forward Sione Lousi soured Matt Elliott's first game in charge of the Warriors.
Elliott's youthful Warriors outfit fell 42-24 to the more experienced Gold Coast at Pizzey Park but the former Penrith and Canberra coach finished the night more concerned by Lousi's worrying injury.
The giant 23-year-old was carried off the field in the 52nd minute in pain after he came away badly from a hit-up near the Titans' line.
Lousi punched the turf in disgust after failing to get back to his feet and then writhed in agony when club medics treated his right knee on the sideline to show he's no chance to start the NRL season.
His brother Sam also finished the night with some worries as he was placed on report for a high tackle in the second half.
The incident came just as the largely unheralded visitors, down 24-6 at the time, started a third-quarter rally.
The Kiwis charged back to 24-16 down but failed to carry on as they were made to pay for a string of errors as the Titans ran away to 42-24 before clocking off.
Titans coach John Cartwright's halfback selection dilemma wasn't made any easier despite the comfortable seven-tries-to-five win.
Jordan Rankin and Beau Henry started in the halves, while former Cronulla playmaker Albert Kelly came off the bench, as all showed good touches in their contest to take former captain Scott Prince's No.7 jersey.
Rankin, seemingly the underdog for the role, certainly put his hand up and finished the night with a darting late try, as well as three from three with the boot.
Henry also kicked truly - potting all four shots - while injury-plagued winger Anthony Don caught the eye with a two-try display which has him well in line to start the NRL season at Shark Park on March 10.
Despite their lack of front-liners, the Warriors struck first with hooker Alehana Mara scooting from dummy-half 30m out to put five-eighth Pita Godinet over after just 75 seconds.
But the Titans quickly stiffened their defence and hit back through a long-range try to Don who showed pace and a great swerve after fine lead-up work by Matt Srama and Mark Minichiello.
Gold Coast then controlled the rest of the first half to lead 18-6 at the main break.
Finally, South Sydney opened their pre-season campaign with a comfortable 38-12 win over Papua New Guinea at Redfern Oval.
With owner Russell Crowe watching on from the stands, a largely second-string Souths side dominated possession for most of the game, but were thwarted on several occasions by some fine defending from the competitive tourists.
Coach Michael Maguire handed debuts to winger Bryson Goodwin, an off-season acquisition from Canterbury, and prop Thomas Burgess, the fourth member of his family to turn out for the club.
His twin brother George was also included in the starting line-up with older brother Sam joining the remainder of the Rabbitohs' first-grade squad on the sidelines.
Back-rower Ben Lowe opened the scoring for the hosts, crashing over from close range after nine minutes, but the Kumuls' response was immediate when halfback Israel Eliab got his fingertips to Dion Aiye's grubber-kick for a try.
Souths continued to press, but the tough-tackling PNG side kept them at bay before taking a shock lead on the stroke of quarter-time.
Eliab, who has been watched by a number of NRL clubs, picked off an erratic Souths' offload and raced 80 metres to put the ball under the posts, then added the extras.
The second period followed a similar pattern with the Rabbitohs seeing a lot of the ball and the Kumuls working hard to defend their goalline.
But that resistance was broken when Dave Tyrell darted over for his side's second score, with Goodwin kicking the conversion and, just before halftime, skipper Jason Clark restored Souths' lead from close range.
As the combative Kumuls tired, tries from Chris McQueen and Aaron Gray iced the game for Maguire's side, before Bennett Leslie and Clark added some extra gloss to the scoreline.
Goodwin finished with four goals for the game and Apisai Koroisau was also successful with a kick in front of the posts.