Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: At last - Warriors win in golden point

Warriors 20 Panthers 16

Thank goodness. The Warriors have stopped their losing run and proved they can win in golden point.

A moment of Shaun Johnson magic sealed a nailbiting 20-16 win over Penrith last night, with the halfback skipping through from 20m out with less than 30 seconds to play in the extra-time period.

It's a big, big result. Not only did it take the Auckland club back into the top eight - ahead of the Titans on points differential - but it provides some confidence that might have been starting to slip away, after the heart-wrenching defeats against the Sharks, Sea Eagles and Raiders.

Another golden point loss last night could have been the end, the kind of emotional whack teams don't recover from.

Instead they'll wake up this morning with a spring in their step and head to the Gold Coast next week full of belief.

"There's a fair bit of relief there," admitted coach Andrew McFadden. "It's been a challenging month. We needed that little bit of luck, something to go our way to set us off. We have had some tough losses of late. You need to get some momentum and that is what winning does."

The Warriors should have wrapped the game up much earlier, after taking a 16-8 lead midway through the second half before two Josh Mansour tries in the space of seven minutes levelled the match.

The golden-point period was even more nervy than normal. Most of the 13,026 crowd seemed to sense the season was on the line and the Warriors missed two good drop goal opportunities before Johnson pulled a rabbit out of his hat after a precious Solomone Kata strip had given the Warriors an opportunity with 90 seconds to play.

"[In golden point] we got in position but we overplayed it a bit," said captain Ryan Hoffman. "We probably were a bit nervous, we've had a few lately. It was a special play from Solomone and Shaun doing what he does best."

Last night was a good, but not great, display from the Warriors. The home side failed to convert possession and territory into points in the first half and switched off in the second to give the Panthers a chance. But they impressed with their aggression and intent all night and were the dominant side in golden point. They also created numerous opportunities throughout the match, with only some outstanding Penrith defence preventing further tries.

"I thought we were really dominant," said McFadden. "We played some good footy and the defence scrambled and held us short four or five times. Then we gave them some soft ones and that's the only reason they got back into the game."

Bodene Thompson and Albert Vete were late inclusions in the Warriors lineup, replacing the originally named Bunty Afoa and James Gavet.

Thompson helped to shore up the right-edge defence and Vete was one of several Warriors forwards who ran with intent and showed impressive handling in the tricky conditions.

David Fusitua flashed over for two tries from centre and Ken Maumalo and Manu Vatuvei provided vital impetus on the flanks. Recalled fullback Tui Lolohea made one crucial error but otherwise gave the team an extra dimension on attack and was a constant threat.

Warriors 20 (D. Fusitua 2, K. Maumalo, S. Johnson tries; I. Luke 2 goals)
Penrith 16 (T. Peachey, J. Mansour 2 tries, N. Cleary 2 goals). Halftime: 10-2.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 09 Dec 2016 08:23:07 Processing Time: 511ms