Full Time
4:05pm Sun April 2, 2023
Round 5 - PointsBet Stadium, Woolooware / Dharawal - Crowd: 10878

Match Overview

Shaun Johnson has inspired the New Zealand Warriors to one of the club's greatest ever victories after rallying from a 20-point deficit to defeat the Cronulla Sharks 32-30 on Sunday afternoon.

In a match high on entertainment, but unlikely to be remembered fondly by defensive purists, Johnson nailed a late penalty goal to put the Warriors ahead for the first time before the side survived a final scare with Nicho Hynes missing a long-range penalty goal which would have sent the match into golden point.

The win was the first time the Warriors prevailed at Cronulla since 2015 and only the sixth victory in 20 visits overall.

Wasting little time in capitalising on a Warriors error on just the second tackle of the match, Cronulla second-rower Teig Wilton (1st minute) found himself in the right place to open the scoring in his 50th game for the club.

Going further in front in the following set following a break by Briton Nikora resulting in a six-again call, a superbly-executed left-side shift allowed Ronaldo Mulitalo (5th minute) to take the score out to 12-0.

Making the most of an opportunity after Edward Kosi failed to latch onto an intercept, the Sharks produced a mirror image of their second try with Sione Katoa (14th minute) touching down in the right corner.

Facing a 20-0 deficit after Nicho Hynes added a penalty goal midway through the half, the Warriors stemmed the one-way flow of points with stand-in captain Wayde Egan (21st minute) pouncing on a bouncing ball to score his fourth try in as many games this season.

Will Kennedy (27th minute) claimed his sixth try in five matches with a show-and-go close to the line, while former Cronulla playmaker Johnson kept the visitors in the contest with a well-placed pass to allow Marata Niukore (29th minute) to barge over for his first try in Warriors colours.

Forced to play the first ten minutes of the second half with 12 players after Niukore was sent to the sin bin for a hip drop tackle on halftime, Johnson (45th minute) was rewarded for effort on effort after forcing an error out of Mulitalo with a towering bomb and leading the chase to score.

Gaining the ascendancy with Johnson and Ronald Volkman producing multiple repeat sets, Kosi (52nd minute) touched down to narrow the margin to two points.

Having conceded three tries either side of half time, the Sharks regained a six-point advantage after Mulitalo (55th minute) claimed his second after Hynes forced a repeat set through his kicking game.

Setting up a grandstand finish with Josh Curran (67th minute) crashing over after getting his first involvement during the final quarter, a successful conversion from Johnson levelled the scores at 30-all.

In an enthralling final ten minutes that saw Dale Finucane sent to the sin bin for a hip drop tackle, the Sharks opted to frantically run the ball on the final tackle which resulted in Curran being tackled off the ball.

Johnson stepped up to nail the penalty goal but almost went from hero to villain after conceding an offside penalty from the ensuring short kick-off.

Hynes ultimately was off target with his penalty attempt, leaving the bulk of the rain-soaked 10,878 fans to lament what could have been as the Warriors secured a 32-30 great escape.

Next week, the Sharks will enjoy a bye over the Easter weekend, while the Warriors will face the Knights in Newcastle on Sunday evening.

3. Shaun Johnson

Producing an effort play that changed the course of the match early in the second half, the Warriors halfback stepped up to win.

2. Nicho Hynes

Having a hand in everything the Sharks did right, the reigning Dally M winner put himself in the position to send the match to extra time.

1. Jazz Tevaga

Having a big impact in a rare starting appearance, the lock was a pillar of strength with and without the ball.