Shaun Johnson kicked a late penalty awarded for offside in the final minute of the game to earn New Zealand Warriors a 14-13 victory over Sydney Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday.
It was a controversial ending to a compellingly tight encounter that the Warriors needed to win if they were to sustain their challenge from outside the top eight of the NRL ladder.
The Warriors came into the game without any changes from the squad that had been announced earlier in the week, whereas the Roosters brought in Aidan Guerra to start in the second row, pushing Mitch Aubusson onto the bench. Sio Siua Taukeiaho started at lock with Connor Watson coming on to the bench. Paul Carter dropped out of their side.
The Warriors scored first half tries by James Gavet and David Fusitu’a, both converted by Johnson, to give them a 12-4 lead at half-time.
The Roosters had scored a try by Joseph Manu, but suffered a yellow card for winger Daniel Tupou with five minutes remaining of the half.
In the second half the Roosters gradually overhauled the Warriors, with Kiwi Test star Shaun Kenny-Dowall scoring a converted try on 47 minutes, with Michael Gordon then adding a penalty to tie the scores ten minutes later.
When the Roosters added a field-goal from Mitchell Pearce with five minutes remaining, it looked like being another frustrating, narrow home defeat for the Warriors, before Johnson stepped up to win the game from 20 metres out, just to the side of the posts.
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C), 2 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 3 David Fusitua, 4 Blake Ayshford, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Jacob Lillyman, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering; Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache, 15 Ligi Sao, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Ben Matulino.
Roosters: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 4 Joseph Manu, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Luke Keary, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (C), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Boyd Cordner (C), 13 Aidan Guerra, 16 Sio Siua Taukeiaho; Interchange: 12 Mitchell Aubusson, 14 Isaac Liu, 15 Zane Tetevano, 22 Connor Watson.
A full roundup of all the weekend’s NRL matches will feature in this week’s edition of League Express