Green lauds John­son as War­riors clip Sea Ea­gles’ wings

Sunday Star-Times - - ALL BLACKS V FRANCE - MAT KERMEEN

Stand-in War­riors skip­per Blake Green needed only one word to de­scribe how good it was to have his halves part­ner back from in­jury.

‘‘Fan­tas­tic,’’ Green said of Shaun John­son’s re­turn from an an­kle in­jury af­ter more than a month on the side­lines.

The star half­back was electric in the War­riors’ 34-14 vic­tory over Manly in Christchurch last night and Green said John­son was a ma­jor part of his side’s mo­ti­va­tion.

‘‘We had some­thing to play for tonight with Shaun’s 150th game. Big oc­ca­sion for him, he’s con­trib­uted so much to the club,’’ Green said.

The im­por­tance of the win was ev­i­dent on Green’s face post-match fol­low­ing the War­riors’ last start 10-30 loss to the Rab­bitohs.

‘‘We’ve been a bit up and down over the last prob­a­bly five weeks so it was im­por­tant that we put to­gether a good per­for­mance,’’ Green said.

He was quick to praise his mid­dle for­wards who set the plat­form for John­son to weave his magic.

‘‘He [John­son] was very good tonight but I thought our mid­dles were very good, [they] laid a plat­form for him to do his thing.’’

James Gavet and Ag­natius Paasi started it and in­ter­change props Chris Satae and Bunty Afoa added im­pact off the bench.

Is­sac Luke, Adam Blair and Si­mon Man­ner­ing locked down the mid­dle of the field de­fen­sively.

‘‘The boys did a good job there and cre­ated mo­men­tum for Bully [Luke] to do his stuff,’’ War­riors coach Stephen Kear­ney said.

‘‘I thought the guys came out tonight and put in a good per­for­mance,’’ he said of his mid­dle for­wards.

Kear­ney also praised the work of pow­er­ful wingers Ken Mau­malo and David Fusitu’a, who en­sured most of the War­riors sets started with for­ward mo­men­tum.

‘‘Both of those guys have done a tremen­dous job for us all sea­son,’’ Kear­ney said.

It was Manly’s home game but the 17,357-strong Christchurch crowd was clearly be­hind the War­riors and Kear­ney said the War­riors play­ers had made men­tion post-game of how vo­cal the crowd was in their favour.

Kear­ney said last week’s bye had given his side a chance to ad­dress some ar­eas of con­cern.

De­fence was one of them and Kear­ney was im­pressed with the im­prove­ment – es­pe­cially in the fi­nal few mo­ments of the first half.

With the War­riors lead­ing just 12-8 be­fore the break, Luke dumped a dan­ger­ous Daly Cherry-Evans down to kill Manly’s mo­men­tum.

‘‘I thought Bully’s [Luke] tackle on Cherry [Cherry-Evans] was a big play,’’ Kear­ney said.

‘‘When you’re feel­ing things are go­ing your hap­pens.’’

Manly coach Trent Bar­rett was un­sure of the ex­act di­ag­no­sis of star hooker Api­sai Koroisau, who limped off early in the first half, but ad­mit­ted ‘‘it’s not look­ing great’’.

‘‘Pos­si­bly a bro­ken foot or in­jury,’’ Bar­rett said.

An ex­tended time on the side­lines for Koroisau would be a mas­sive loss for Manly. good way and that a lis­franc

Bar­rett praised the ef­fort of Matthew Wright who played more than three-quar­ters of the match at hooker.

Bar­rett was unim­pressed with the call to al­low Luke’s one-on-one strip that led to Tohu Har­ris’ firsthalf try. He in­sisted there were two men in the tackle but Bar­rett did con­cede that ul­ti­mately it was his own side’s mis­takes that cost them the match.

The War­riors now turn­around with an take on the Cow­boys on Fri­day night. face a quick away trip to in Townsville

(David Fusitu’a 3, Isa­iah Pa­pali’i, Tohu Har­ris, Shaun John­son tries; John­son 5 goals) (Api­sai Koroisau, Brian Kelly tries; Trent Hod­kin­son 3 goals). HT: 12-8.

David Fusitu’a cel­e­brates af­ter one of his three tries against Manly.

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