Saturday 17 March 2018 / 11:08 PM


Shaun Johnson may be playing on one leg, but the Warriors talisman is still one of the NRL’s foremost magic men.

In a torrid Saturday night encounter at Mt Smart, the Warriors finally took their first lead of the match against the injury-hit Gold Coast Titans with a penalty goal in the 64th minute.

But Johnson wrenched the game away from the visitors in the ensuing set, producing this dazzling 65-metre solo try, featuring a show-and-go, a fend and some trademark footwork and speed – although not the usual searing pace we’re used to seeing from the No.7, due to a quad complaint.

Bodene Thompson sealed the resulted with eight minutes to go, pouring through a hole off a Thomas Leuluai short ball, before Johnson iced a 27-18 win with a late field goal.

The win was a fitting way for Simon Mannering – who resumed the captaincy for one game with Ryan Hoffman pulling out late – to celebrate becoming just the second Warrior to rack up 250 games.

Johnson was the toast of the Auckland faithful after yet another match-winning turn. The halfback’s highlights reel bulges like no other player, but it’s his ability to pull off the big plays when it counts that marks him as one of the most special players of his generation.

The try against the Titans followed on from his clutch four-pointer a fortnight ago in the Warriors’ 16-12 win over the Roosters, defying his leg injury to step through for a similarly timely score in the last quarter of the match.

The Warriors now sit in eighth spot, just four points adrift of the top four, and a relatively gentle run to the end of the regular season looks set to propel the club to its first finals appearance since 2011.

[YouTube – VAC 2016]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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