Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Behind Shaun Johnson's golden moment

Shaun Johnson celebrates his golden point try with team mates. Photo / Andrew Cornaga
Shaun Johnson celebrates his golden point try with team mates. Photo / Andrew Cornaga

Shaun Johnson has scored numerous spectacular tries over the course of his career, but surely few as important as tonight's improbable 90th-minute match winner in the 20-16 golden point victory over the Panthers.

With less than 40 seconds on the clock, and on the fourth tackle, Johnson rolled the dice - and it paid off.

Receiving the ball 22m out and set for a drop goal, Johnson instead dummied and stepped past the on-rushing defence, then feinted again before scorching across the tryline.

It was not just a play of rare skill but also courage as he risked dying with the ball with tackles running out.

"That was a very composed play," said coach Andrew McFadden. "He knew he wasn't going to get a clean shot away [and] he had tackles up his sleeve. That was a big play in a big moment."

It also wasn't completely off the cuff, as the coaching staff had discussed such a scenario with the halfback in the wake of the golden-point loss to the Sea Eagles, when defenders had ran from an offside position to charge down his drop goal attempt.

"Referees don't blow penalties for offside in golden point so I knew they were always going to get to me," said Johnson. "I learned my lesson from a few weeks ago, actually, where I wish I had done that, just beat that first player and let instinct take over.

"You don't expect to score a try off it but I was glad I could come up with that play. [After I beat the first defender] I looked wide, I knew the defence was going to come in. I pumped the ball, they held off and I went for it ... it was a pretty good feeling."

And extremely important, as Johnson admitted that another extra-time defeat may have had terminal implications for the Warriors' season.

"I don't know where our heads would be at if we had lost that one," he said. "I don't like to think about that one. It's big for us going forward."

- NZ Herald

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