10 May 2015

Warriors win thriller in Cronulla

8:23 am on 10 May 2015

Another dose of Shaun Johnson magic gave the Warriors a stunning last-gasp 20-16 win over the Sharks after a remarkable final eight minutes in last night's NRL match in Cronulla.

The Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson celebrates a try.

The Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson celebrates a try. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

As the match entered its final stages the two teams were locked together at 10-10 after what had been a hard-bitten and often ugly battle.

But from the 72nd minute on this game sparked into life as the Warriors centre Solomone Kata ignited it.

Minutes earlier he had fluffed his lines going for a try in the left-hand corner when he failed to ground the ball but this time he made it count, taking a great ball from Johnson and finishing off exceptionally with a centimetre or two to spare.

Johnson again missed the challenging conversion - as he had for the team's first two tries in the first half - and the Warriors' lead was a precarious 14-10 with six minutes to go.

It had disappeared five minutes later when the wrecking ball that is Andrew Fifita stepped up.

Surging across field in front of the Warriors' posts he thundered his way through hapless defenders for an incredible solo try.

It was over to wing Valentine Holmes to put his side 16-14 in front with the conversion; on a night when he nailed four from four he didn't disappoint his team or fans but left the Warriors and their followers with that empty not-again feeling.

There was still time on the clock, though, about two and a half minutes when Johnson tried a short restart only to watch Cronulla secure possession in the scramble.

It was the Sharks' game to lose now as they had the chance to play out the set and kill the game off.

Cue the remarkable.

Jeff Robson dallied on his last tackle kick, giving the Warriors Ryan Hoffman time to charge down, re-gather and surge downfield before he was scragged 25 metres out.

The Warriors had a huge line-up to the right but instead of going to the edge, Johnson cut back off his right foot and kept standing up defender after defender on a mesmerising run that took him all the way for one of the most astonishing match-winning tries anyone will see this season.

Johnson nailed conversion to give his side a 20-16 victory leaving Cronulla with the desolate feeling the Warriors had experienced when Jake Granville stole victory for the Cowboys last month.

Head coach Andrew McFadden, his staff and the players were desperate to recover from the back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and the Titans, results which left the club lying 13th on the ladder with a three wins-five losses record after eight rounds.

Such is the congested nature of the table that this victory over the Sharks has enabled the Warriors to climb all the way to eighth on, sitting on eight points.

There was incident and drama along the way, most notably when Cronulla back rower Anthony Tupou was taken to hospital with a broken jaw after a sickening collision with a rampant Konrad Hurrell (Hurrell was put on report as a result).

There was also a significant injury concern for the Warriors when they lost Vatuvei with a chest injury he suffered in the first half.

He played on for a while before being forced to sit out the game clasping an ice pack to his chest; the extent of the injury is yet to be determined.

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