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A Shaun Johnson golden point field goal has helped the Warriors make it three on the trot, overcoming a gutsy Raiders comeback to win 21-20 in front of a packed home crowd on Friday night.

An incredible late surge from Ricky Stuart's Raiders, with Elliot Whitehead and Jack Wighton tries saw the visitors go back-to-back in two minutes but a missed Jarrod Croker conversion put the game into extra time.

But when Johnson drilled the clutch moment with his first opportunity from 30m out, the Warriors broke the Raiders' hearts for a second time this season and booked a spot in the top three of the competition ladder.

Johnson wins it for the Wahs

While Johnson produced another playmaking masterclass, it was winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who stole the show in front of the Warriors faithful, with a tide turning try-saver and a four-pointer of his own.

An offside Wighton penalty gave the home side an early opportunity in Raiders' territory and hooker Wayde Egan put Marata Niukore through the line with a deft pass from close range. The Warriors were ahead of the scoreboard, 6-0, three minutes in.

After the Raiders survived several Warriors opportunities, forward Hudson Young made the home side pay for a misfired Shaun Johnson pass, scooping up the loose ball and streaming 40m down the line to lock the scoreboard 6-6. 

Moments after Warriors winger Watene-Zelezniak produced a try-saver on Seb Kris for the ages, the Warriors went the length of the field before Johnson found Charnz Nicoll-Klokstad who got one over his former team. Johnson missed the conversion but thanks to an earlier penalty goal, the home side headed to the sheds with a 14-6 lead at half-time.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad try 38th

The Warriors extended their lead eight minutes into the second-half with Johnson igniting a slick right-side-raid which saw Watene-Zelezniak putting one down in the corner and the home side were out to a 12-point lead.

But in typical Raiders fashion, the Green Machine wrestled back momentum in the second-half and orchestrated three late tries to ensure a grandstand finish in Auckland. 

It was Jordan Rapana who crossed in the 63rd minute when a pinpoint Jamal Fogarty kick sat up perfectly for the winger to score in the right corner and reduce the deficit to 10 for the visitors. 

Jordan Rapana try 63rd minute

But with two minutes to go, it was Elliot Whitehead and Jack Wighton who crossed back-to-back to take the game to golden point.

With seconds to go, the Green Machine went the length of the field to level the scores through Wighton on the left, however Croker missed the potential match-winning conversion from the sideline.

And when the game went to golden point, Johnson was the first one with an attempt to seal the important Round 21 clash and after slotting the goal from 30 out, the Warriors leapfrogged the Raiders into the top four.

Match Snapshot 

  • Warriors forward Marata Niukore left the field in the 20th minute of the match and did not return after failing his HIA.
  • Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is scoring tries for fun this year having scored 14 tries in his past nine games.
  • The match marked the first time the Raiders played in New Zealand since 2019.
  • Raiders centre Matt Timoko had another day out in the No. 4 jersey with 171 run metres and seven tackle breaks for the Raiders. 
  • Warriors forward Addin Fonua-Blake got through a mountain of work for his side with 212 run metres, of which 92 were post contact and 34 tackles.
  • Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh was relentless at lock, getting through 60 tackles with only one missed.

Plays of the Game 

While Jack Wighton's runaway try looked to be the play that won the game for the resurgent Raiders, Shaun Johnson had more to give. Jarrod Croker's conversion could have put the game to bed but when the match went to golden-point, Johnson had the opportunity to ice an already impressive performance on the boot.

The veteran halfback got himself in position 30 metres out and there were never any doubts the ball was going between the uprights.

Johnson wins it for the Wahs

Try-saving plays don't come much better than the first-half heroics Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. The in-form winger had the Warriors faithful on their feet when the electric outside back managed to knock the ball from Seb Kris' grasp in the end-goal. With less than three minutes to play in the first-term and the Raiders down by two points, Watene-Zelezniak's try-saving feats turned the tide of the match with fullback CharnzeNicoll-Klokstad scoring just seconds later and putting the home side in front by eight at the break. 

Try saver from DWZ

What They Said

"We tried really hard again, we executed a lot of really good stuff but we certainly didn't execute a lot of other stuff and put pressure on ourselves. The lesson is we can't relieve pressure when we've got the foot on the throat. These are big games against good sides and when you get yourself in trouble, you've got to know how to get yourself out of it and I thought our composure in golden point was excellent." - Warriors coach Andrew Webster

Warriors: Round 21

"That's probably the greatest example to say of why I love coaching this footy team. They're tough and there's no give up in them. I thought we played a very good game of football against a very good football team." - Raiders coach Ricky Stuart

Raiders: Round 21

What's Next 

The Raiders will host the Knights at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon while the Warriors enjoy a bye before heading to the Gold Coast in Round 23.

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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