Shaun Johnson

Ending a game with your completion rate sitting at 83% in a game where the sun is shining, is a feat in of itself – but doing so in dour conditions, teeming down with rain, is an even bigger achievement.

For the New Zealand Warriors, they achieved just that, as they defeated a depleted Panthers side 30-16, moving into 9th spot on the competition ladder.

With conditions in a dour state, it was a question of who could hold onto the ball and make the most of their opportunities – something that the Warriors achieved, on the back of a stellar game from halfback Shaun Johnson.

For Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, having watched Johnson’s game develop and grow over the years as a former coach of the Warriors, whilst disheartened at the way he controlled the game, Cleary could not deny that he has come a long way.

“He’s a huge talent obviously, I thought tonight was a pretty mature performance really,” said the former Warriors mentor.

Despite his strong performance, for Johnson himself, he believes that future games for him personally have to be all about stability in his own game – a trait that he garnered well in his stellar 2011 season.

“I can’t keep playing those flashy things if i want to progress in the game,” Johnson said.

“As a player you always want to keep improving.

“Hopefully tonight’s performance would’ve earnt me a little respect from the boys.

“There wasn’t that much chance to do that flashy stuff, but I thought I played direct and really bossed the boys around.

“I certainly feel more responsibility now, it’s just natural to grow into the role.”

Despite being without three of their Origin stars, the Panthers side fought hard, and it was only an ill-advised decision in hindsight, that perhaps ended up costing them the game.

“It kind of summed up the second half – we had an opportunity to get to our kick and we didn’t and they scored directly off that one,” Cleary said.

“It was disappointing in that sense, I thought the boys were hanging in really well.”

The only downside for the Warriors, is a potential high ankle sprain to hooker Alehana Mara – an injury that is likely to keep him out for at least a few weeks.

By ricky

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