Lessons learned from recent losses helped Shaun Johnson lead the Warriors to a potentially season-saving win over the North Queensland Cowboys on Sunday.
Johnson was disappointed in his own performance in the Warriors' narrow loss to Cronulla a fortnight ago, but the young halfback atoned at Mt Smart Stadium as his side looked set to squander yet another lead.
After playing with a lack of control in the final 10 minutes at Shark Park to see an 11-point advantage turn into a one-point defeat, Johnson and his teammates stewed over the manner in which they capitulated.
For two weeks, the 21-year-old was left to ruminate over the way he and his teammates relinquished authority and allowed the opposition to force their way back into the match.
So when the Warriors found themselves in a similar position against the Cowboys - seeing their commanding 16-point lead cut to four - Johnson knew it was time to make amends.
"I said after the Sharks game that I wanted to be that person who stood up at that time," he said.
"I didn't do that against the Sharks and we lost, and I took it pretty hard.
"[Against the Cowboys] I just had to calm it down with a kick and a good kick chase or a repeat set to keep building pressure - and I was very happy that I was able to do that."
The benefits of such an approach were immediately clear. Marshalled by Johnson, the Warriors were able to pin the Cowboys in their own half and force four repeat sets.
Eventually, the pressure told and Nathan Friend crashed through a tiring defence to virtually clinch two crucial competition points.
"The way we went about controlling it, especially towards the back end of the game - which is something we've been pretty poor in over the past few weeks - was really good," Johnson said. "It's just something to build on and there's always room for improvement."
Johnson denied the memories of the misery against Cronulla were in the players' minds during the Cowboys' fightback, but he was pleased he and his teammates had absorbed what went wrong and learned how to avoid history repeating.
"That was the biggest thing we could take out of the disappointment against the Sharks - we felt like we were in control of that whole game but we didn't close it out."
"Today was much the same. We felt in control that whole first half and it got pretty tight in the start of the second half, but we closed it out well.
"I'm really proud of the boys that we actually took something out of that game against the Sharks."
It may not have felt like it at the time but the Warriors' second bye, falling after the Cronulla game, may have arrived at the perfect point in the season. Rather than rush into action the following weekend with the aim of undoing the previous week's wrongs, the team were made to endure a two-week wait.
"We wanted to play last week after that Sharks game and we had to contain it," Johnson said. "We had a good break and freshened up but also kept that in the back of our minds - that sort of anger and frustration that we had. We came out and put in on the field."
It showed, and allowed last year's grand finalists to move within two points of the top eight.
If they do kick on and reach the finals the lessons learned, and applied, between the two games may prove a catalyst.
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- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris