Warriors utility Karl Lawton isn't getting carried away with his eye–catching performance on Saturday night against the Dragons, even though everyone else is.

The Australian was superb as back up hooker to Nathaniel Roache, helping to turn the game in the Warriors' favour in the second half.

As the match entered the 'championship' quarter, Lawton, in only his second appearance of the season, fired.

A clever switch from dummy half orchestrated the swift blindside raid that saw David Fusitu'a cross in the 59th minute to bring the scores level to 18-18.


Later he twice found open pasture, cutting through the heart of the Dragons' defence to put the Warriors on the front foot.

Lawton took good options, his distribution was solid and he tackled with gusto.

Playing in just his 20th NRL game, Lawton had five runs for more than 90m, one line break and five tackle busts.

His display was crucial – along with the other interchange players – with coach Stephen Kearney labelling his 20 minute contribution "wonderful".

Australian scribes were full of praise for the Gold Coast product, while television commentators marvelled at the impact of the 23-year-old.

But Lawton played down his effort, pointing out he was the beneficiary, rather than the catalyst.

"That doesn't happen unless the big boys are doing it for me," said Lawton. "They are laying the platform and getting the quick play the balls. And then it is just my job and they expect me to do it, to go when the opportunity comes and do my best to make a half break or poke my nose through."

For Lawton, who endured the second shoulder reconstruction of his career over the off season, the mantra is continuous improvement and making the most of every opportunity.


"It's another game under the belt … a building block for me," said Lawton. "I was definitely happy, but there were a lot of things I could improve on. I'm a bit of a hard marker on myself – don't want to get too ahead of things – [there is] definitely things I need to work on throughout."

Lawton has been stuck behind Issac Luke and Roache since he arrived at Mt Smart, but rarely lets the side down when given the chance.

In 2018 he played his part in important victories over the Sea Eagles and Cowboys (Townsville), as well as a two-try debut against the Tigers in round five.

This year he featured in the win over the Titans – his first NRL outing since last July – before Saturday's heroics.

Lawton offers composure, crisp distribution, solid defence and an eye for a gap. He's also versatile – able to play in the halves or centres at a pinch, another aspect in his favour.

Lawton was thrilled with Saturday's result, which broke a four-game losing sequence.

"We deserved it, put our bodies on the line," said Lawton. "Credit to the big boys and the boys in the back five, it just shows what they can do, especially under some pressure. We can turn games around."

Lawton has also been impressed by Kodi Nikorima's swift integration, after only having his first training session with the team last Wednesday.

"He's fitting in like a glove," said Lawton. "You wouldn't know he hasn't been here that long. He's only had a couple of sessions under his belt but he is working magic out there.

"Give him a week or two and then God knows what he will perform like. Everyone was thrilled with how he performed.

"It just shows the type of player he is and the maturity level of him to come in, such a late call, and perform like he did."