Warriors bounce back
Kearney praises all-round dominant performance
WARRIORS coach Stephen Kearney praised his players after a strong all-round performance in Saturday’s dominant 34-14 NRL win over Manly in Christchurch.
The result saw the Warriors bounce back confidently from their 30-10 loss to South Sydney a fortnight ago — their third sizeable defeat in five matches — prior to the break over last week’s bye round.
Kearney was thrilled with the manner in which his side responded after the Sea Eagles shot out to an early 8-0 lead before the Warriors piled on the points in the six-tries-to-two win at AMI Stadium.
“After the inconsistencies of the last six weeks and particularly our last performance it was a good way to bounce back,” said Kearney.
“The boys absorbed a bit of pressure early and were able to hang in there and find their way midway through the first half so I was pleased.”
The night belonged to Warriors milestone man Shaun Johnson in his 150th match since debuting in 2011, who scored their third try early in the second-half before helping lay on a hat-trick for right wing David Fusitu’a.
The 27-year-old shook off the cobwebs in his first game after a month out with an ankle injury, and his presence gave the Warriors the attacking mojo that was sorely missing during his time on the sidelines.
Kearney was pleased his No 7 was able to savour the victory but paid tribute to the hard work done by his team-mates.
“Shaun was good tonight,” he said. “We all know what Shaun can do but I thought Ken (Maumaolo) did a great job, Sol (Kata) played well.
“We’re a team where everyone contributes, whether that’s with the ball or in defence when we’re all working effectively for each other then we looked pretty sound.
“But I was pleased for Shaun. 150 games is a big occasion and the guys all played well to provide him with a platform to work off.”
Johnson’s try came after he put Fusitu’a away on a long run downfield before backing up inside to score under the posts.
He then made another slashing run before passing off for Fusitu’a to score the first of his three tries and joked he lacked the speed of his younger years to finish things himself.
“It was nice to get the opportunity to get in a bit of space and probably Shaun of a few years ago might have finished a couple of them, but Fus was able to score and that was just as pleasing,” said Johnson.
“It took a bit to get going obviously after a little lay-off . . . but the boys did a great job of getting us going and giving us front foot ball and it’s up to us to get on the back of that.
“Everyone just did their jobs tonight.”
The result keeps the Warriors in fourth level with the Dragons and Rabbitohs, ahead of Friday’s clash against the Cowboys in Townsville.
Shaun Johnson crosses for a try in a strong return from injury against Manly.