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Johnson penalty goal sinks Sharks in remarkable comeback

The Warriors have produced one of the club's biggest comeback wins, mowing down the Sharks 32-30 with a last-minute penalty goal at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday. 

In a remarkable finish, Shaun Johnson slotted a goal near the siren after Josh Curran was ruled to have been pushed while attempting to chase down a kick, before Nicho Hynes missed his own goal kick at full-time to level the scores. 

The Sharks picked up where they left off against the Dragons last week to run in four tries in 26 minutes and set up a 20-0 lead but by the 68th minute they were locked in a 30-30 battle against a Warriors side inspired by Johnson.

A try to Curran via a Johnson pass levelled the scores in the 67th minute as the locals at Shark Park looked on stunned with the visitors on the verge of snatching the win.

Cool Johnson slots the winner

The Warriors were forced to make 60 more tackles than their opponents early with Teig Wilton opening the scoring via a Nicho Hynes kick before wingers Ronaldo Mulitalo and Sione Katoa crossed through simple backline movements.

Warriors hooker Wayde Egan finished off a Johnson kick to get the visitors on the board until Will Kennedy, who took advantage of Ronald Volkman being off the field for a head injury assessment, strolled over on the right edge.

The Warriors hit back through Marata Niukore on the right edge to complete a high-scoring first half but the back-rower finished the opening 40 minutes in the sin-bin for an alleged hip drop on Siosifa Talakai. 

The Sharks get some breathing space

Niukore's absence was not felt, however, with the Warriors striking again through Johnson after a clean drop by Mulitalo was picked up by the former Sharks playmaker to run to the line. 

An error from Talakai, who failed to play the ball correctly, opened the door for the Warriors to pounce again and a slick play on the right edge enabled Edward Kosi to charge over the line with 26 minutes left.

A second try to Mulitalo on the left edge, who took advantage of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad error in the air, gave the Sharks some breathing space with a converted try separating them before Curran's effort levelled the game and set up the win.

Match snapshot

  • The Sharks led 20-0 after 21 minutes with tries to Teig Wilton, Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo. Mulitalo has now scored 16 tries in 16 games at PointsBet Stadium and also reached the 50 try milestone in the win.
  • The Warriors scored 18 unanswered points from the 30th minute of the match through until the 58th minute, getting the visitors back into the game.
  • The Warriors had only 42 per cent of the ball in the first half but managed to even up the possession by full-time, showing their territory late. 
  • Warriors forward Marata Niukore was placed on report and sin-binned for an alleged hip drop tackle on Siosifa Talakai. 
  • Warriors forward Josh Curran was placed on report for using his knees in a tackle on Mulitalo.
  • The Warriors' win was their first at PointsBet Stadium since 2015. Only five Warriors players had tasted an NRL victory previously at the venue.
  • Sharks forward Dale Finucane was placed on report and sin-binned late for an alleged hip drop on Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Play of the game

Shaun Johnson had a hand in everything against his former club with his 79th minute penalty goal in the rain sinking his former side but it was the effort of Josh Curran late, who not only scored to level the scores but produced the play to earn the Warriors a penalty.

All effort play from Curran gets the result

What they said

"It’s one of the best wins I’ve ever been a part of, for different reasons, and that is they just never gave up. We just keep making it hard, but we must love it for some reason, I don’t know why, but looking forward to an 80-minute performance. The boys’ attitude and never giving up is just something different, it’s crazy how good it is." – Warriors coach Andrew Webster. 

Warriors: Round 5

“You sort of know when you’re going like that [in the first half] that it’s not going to stay that way. Just disappointed in our fundamentals. We invited them back in, simple play the ball errors gave them time on our try line, simple dropped catches gave them points. I think three errors for [Warriors] points and then all of a sudden it’s a game.” – Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

Sharks: Round 5

What's next

Cronulla will have a week off with their bye scheduled for Round 6. They'll have the services of veteran Wade Graham once their season resumes against the Roosters on April 14 while Oregon Kaufusi (concussion) is also a chance to make a return.

The Warriors may as well remain in Australia and head north to Newcastle with a match schedule against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Easter Monday. The side could be boosted by the returns of Te Maire Martin and Mitch Barnett while Tohu Harris (knee) could also be a chance. 

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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