A year ago, reading that Shaun Johnson had played a blinder would’ve brought smiles to the faces of Warriors fans. Unfortunately, his new side, the Sharks, were the ones to benefit from Johnson’s form, destroying the Warriors 42-16 in Cronulla today.
It was the second weekend in a row that the Warriors leaked 42 points, and the second where they’ve come absolutely nowhere near matching it. Things started badly when Bronson Xerri crossed for the Sharks after only two minutes, after the home side opted to run it on the last tackle. Patrick Herbert hit back off some good work by Issac Luke and David Fusitu’a after 10 minutes.
However, any thoughts that this would be a tit-for-tat battle were put to rest after Josh Morris and Josh Dugan both scored in quick succession for the Sharks. Although Isiah Papalii scored a bullocking try after 28 minutes, Johnson set up fellow Kiwi rep Briton Nikora right on halftime to push the score out to 24-10.
The second half saw former Glenora Bears junior Braden Hamlin-Uele score, and he was followed onto the scoresheet by Ronaldo Mulitalo. The football star’s namesake scored off what could be described as a goal keeping clanger by Ken Maumalo, who let a kick by Chad Townsend slip through his fingers for Mulitalo to dive on. Morris then grabbed a double off a Warriors’ mistake, but the game was as good as over long before that stage.
Johnson, who kicked seven from seven and scored his 1000th point in his NRL career during the game, was understandably happy after the final whistle and praised his side for the crucial effort that keeps them in the top eight.
“We knew we had to be good if we were going to get the win” he said. Johnson also added that:
“It was actually a lot easier to get prepared than the first time we played the Warriors in Wellington.”
The loss now completely kills off the miniscule playoff chances the Warriors had, so now the focus for Stephen Kearney will be on building a side for next year. Which, unfortunately, is the same story for Warriors fans all over again.
Sharks 42 (J Morris 2, B Xerri, J Dugan, B Nikora, B Hamlin-Uele, R Mulitalo tries; S Johnson 7 goals)
Warriors 16 (P Herbert, I Papalii, D Fusitu’a tries; I Luke, Herbert goals)
HT: 24-10 Sharks