Late Johnson penalty gets Warriors season back on track

James Gavet

A tense, dramatic contest at Mt Smart Stadium went down to the wire as a last-gasp penalty goal from Shaun Johnson proved the difference, handing the Warriors a 14-13 win over the Sydney Roosters.

Making no mistake with the penalty from 20m out, it was the Warriors first win in three matches and is sure to give them confidence moving forward.

You could be mistaken for thinking that just four minutes earlier, a field goal from Mitchell Pearce would be the icing on the cake to seal a Roosters victory but fate had other plans.

It was all the Warriors in the first half as the Roosters struggled at times in attack and made poor decisions. This was the case when the Warriors scored two relatively quick tries in succession.

That was compounded when at the back end of the first half, winger Daniel Tupou was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul leaving the Roosters a man down, to which the Warriors capitalised with a try to David Fusitu’a.

The lead could have been even more after the break – which the Warriors led 12-4 – were it not for an obstruction ruled in the lead-up for a possible try to debutant Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad.

The Roosters took that in their stride and then proceeded to change the momentum of the game as first, Shaun Kenny-Dowall raced away for an intercept before then taking a penalty goal to even the scores up at 12-apiece.

With the field goal slotted, the Roosters thought their defence would win them the game but after being deemed offside in one of the Warriors attacking raids, Mitchell Pearce went from hero to zero.

Johnson did the rest and slotted the penalty goal home to give the Warriors a valuable win heading into the rep-break.

Often criticised for their defensive efforts, Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was pleased with the resolve his side showed particularly in their scramble defence.

“The way we kept turning up and the scramble, once you see each other doing that everyone gets a lift and just builds off that,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.

Left to rue their missed opportunities, Roosters coach Trent Robinson, whilst visibly frustrated, admitted that the Pearce offside call late on was the right one.

“Yeah it was offside, that’s the rule,” Robinson said.

“It was a genuine penalty, he needed to get back onside and he didn’t.”

So far this year, the Warriors have struggled in the second half and almost allowed the Roosters to win the game, an aspect of their game that coach Stephen Kearney lamented after the match.

“It was probably a little lack of composure… maybe energy,” Kearney said.

“The first couple of sets the Roosters had [in the second half] they looked like they had been shot out of a cannon, they really came out with some energy. It probably just rocked us a little bit there.”

Player of the Game:

3. James Gavet

2. Boyd Cordner

  1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

New Zealand Warriors 14 (James Gavet, David Fusitu’a tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) def. Sydney Roosters 13 (Joseph Manu, Shaun Kenny-Dowall tries; Michael Gordon 2 goals. Mitchell Pearce 1 field goal) at Mount Smart Stadium. Half-time: 12-4. Crowd: 13,126

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