War­riors bounce back

Kear­ney praises all-round dom­i­nant per­for­mance

Whanganui Chronicle - - Sport -

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.

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