Limitoo News

Johnson stars as Warriors crush Cronulla Sharks

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson takes on Kiwis teammate and Cronulla Sharks forward Briton Nikora.
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson takes on Kiwis teammate and Cronulla Sharks forward Briton Nikora. Photo: Photosport

Shaun Johnson capped a memorable week as the Warriors thumped Cronulla 44-12 in Auckland on Sunday to record their biggest ever NRL win over the Sharks.

Veteran halfback Johnson celebrated the midweek birth of his second child and re-signed with the club, then rounded the week out with a dominant performance in an eight-try team effort.

Johnson finished the match with three try assists and 10 points from the boot against a Cronulla side he represented for three seasons, from 2019 to 2021.

The 32-year-old has unearthed his best form this season for a Warriors side who climbed past the Sharks to fifth on the table and appear on track for a playoffs appearance in September.

Cronulla crossed first through star playmaker Nicho Hynes but could not halt the Warriors tide, with four tries racked up in the space of 11 minutes to backs Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Rocco Berry and Luke Metcalf, along with rampaging prop Addin Fonua-Blake.

Johnson's impact continued after the break when he pulled off a try-saving tackle before another flood of Warriors tries, including a second each to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Watene-Zelezniak - the latter taking his tally to 15 tries from his last 11 games.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Photo: © NRL Photos 2023

Warriors coach Andrew Webster praised his team's composure after Cronulla started the game strongly.

"I thought we weathered a storm early. They were winning the field position battle. It wasn't like we weren't trying or didn't turn up, we were probably just a bit keen," Webster said.

"I thought we gathered ourselves really well at a crucial stage. We didn't want to score on every play. We built some pressure, and the big thing was we executed unbelievably well."

The Warriors won five of their last six games and average 40 points from their last four wins.

They face a short, five-day turnaround before the next game, against the fourth-placed Canberra Raiders in Auckland on Friday 21 July.