Johnson orchestrates Warriors comeback

13:18, Jul 19 2013
Warriors 2013
Shaun Johnson on the attack against the Eels.
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Jacob Lillyman touches down in the Warriors opener against the Eels.
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Manu Vatuvei absorbs two tackles from the Eels.
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Ben Matulino on the run against the Eels.
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Kevin Locke and Shaun Johnson look on after losing to the Roosters in round two.
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Kevin Locke is tackled by former Warrior James Maloney.
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Captain Simon Mannering gets caught in the tackle against the Roosters.
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Sonny Bill Williams makes his return to Eden Park, this time for the Roosters against the Warriors.
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Elijah Taylor on the run against the Sharks.
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Dane Nielsen attempts to slip through a Sharks tackle.
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Thomas Leuluai gets through the tackle of the Sharks' Wade Graham.
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Pita Godinet gets a pass away against the Cowboys.
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Konrad Hurrell escapes the tackle of James Tamou of the Cowboys.
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Feleti Mateo congratulates Shaun Johnson on his try against the Cowboys.
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Nathan Friend prepares for the tackle against the Cowboys.
Warriors 2013 season
Ben Matulino of the Warriors dives over to score a try during the round five match with the Rabbitohs.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei tries to make the hard yards against the Rabbitohs.
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Todd Lowrie spins a pass during the round five encounter with the Rabbitohs.
Warriors 2013 season
Ngani Laumape tries to make ground against a wall of Rabbitohs players.
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Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors fends off Jarrod Croker of the Raiders during the round six clash between the sides.
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Bill Tupou of the Warriors tries to grab a loose ball under pressure from Jarrod Croker of the Raiders.
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Warrior Kevin Locke on the charge against the Canberra Raiders in round six.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors and Jack Wighton of the Raiders contest a high ball during their round six encounter.
Warriors 2013 season
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the Melbourne Storm in round seven.
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Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors takes a hit against the Storm.
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Shaun Johnson scores for the Warriors against the Storm.
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Bill Tupou celebrates with teammates after scoring a try for the Warriors against the Storm.
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Feleti Mateo (right) celebrates his try against the Titans with Manu Vatuvei.
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Manu Vatuvei chases the ball into the in-goal.
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Kevin Locke takes on the Titans defence.
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Russell Packer charges ahead for the Warriors against the Titans.
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Sam Kasiano of the Bulldogs makes little ground against the Warriors' defence.
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Thomas Leuluai scores for the Warriors against the Bulldogs at Westpac stadium in Wellington.
Warriors 2013 season
The Warriors' Manu Vatuvei and Bulldog Sam Perrett contest for a high ball.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei celebrates with Todd Lowrie after scoring the Warriors' first try against the Bulldogs in Wellington.
Warriors 2013 Season
Warriors coach Matthew Elliott arrives at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
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Warrior Kevin Locke arrives at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
Warriors 2013 season
Warriors players arrive at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
Warriors season 2013
Jordan Kahu of the Warriors blows a kiss to the fans as he celebrates a try against the Broncos.
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The Bronco's Josh Hoffman makes little ground against the Warriors.
Warriors season 2013
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors breaks away from the Bronco's defence.
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Konrad Hurrell touches down for the Warriors against the Broncos.
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Manu Vatuvei charges ahead against Manly.
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Konrad Hurrell beats the tackle of Manly's Brent Kite on his way to the tryline for the match-winning try.
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Manu Vatuvei leaves Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans in his wake.
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Warriors players (from left) Jacon Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Konrad Hurrell watch replays on the big screen as video refs consider a decision.
Warriors v Roosters
Elijah Taylor tries to fend off James Maloney during the Warriors' 23-12 win over the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Glen Fisiiahi breaks away to score a try against the Roosters.
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Sonny Bill Williams tries to escape the Warriors' tackle.
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Thomas Leuluai gets the kick off as he is tackled by Sonny Bill Williams.
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Anthony Minichello executes a try saving tackle on Ben Matulino.
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Glen Fisiiahi (left) and Konrad Hurrell celebrate the win over Brisbane Broncos.
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Feleti Mateo offloads in the tackle of a Brisbane Broncos player.
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Manu Vatuvei celebrates scoring the first against the Brisbane Broncos.
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Kevin Locke is taken in the tackle of a Brisbane Broncos player.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Konrad Hurrell attempts to break the Rabbitohs' defence in Perth.
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Thomas Leuluai makes a break during the Warriors' loss to the Rabbitohs.
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Isaac Luke of the Rabbitohs gets tackled by Feleti Mateo of the Warriors.
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Nathan Merritt of the Rabbitohs gets tackled by Elijah Taylor of the Warriors.
Shuan Johnson
Shaun Johnson high-fives captain Simon Mannering after his second half try, part of his 16-point haul in the 24-14 win over the Wests Tigers.
Kevin Locke
Kevin Locke runs straight into Kiwis team-mate Adam Blair during their match at Leichhardt Oval.
Elijah Taylor
Warriors forward Elijah Taylor is bent back in the tackle of three Wests Tigers players.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson scored two tries and kicked four conversions in the win at Leichhardt Oval.
Feleti Mateo
Warriors centre Feleti Mateo is tackled by Blake Ayshford.
Ben Matulino
Ben Matulino charges straight into the Wests Tigers defence.
Suaia Matagi
Suaia Matagi cops a forearm to the nose as he hits the ball up.
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Feleti Mateo of the Warriors charges forward against the Storm.
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Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors offloads to setup another attack.
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Cooper Cronk of the Melbourne Storm is brought down by strong Warriors defence.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Manu Vatuvei reacts after the loss to the Sea Eagles.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Kevin Locke chases down a loose ball during the Warriors' loss to the Sea Eagles.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Ngani Laumape touches down for a try against the Sea Eagles.
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Shaun Johnson in action against the Sea Eagles.

Benji Marshall received a hero's welcome but bade farewell to Leichhardt Oval on a sombre note tonight as Shaun Johnson compounded the misery of the Wests Tigers five-eighth by orchestrating a deserved 24-14 victory for the New Zealand Warriors.

The former Kiwis captain feared the crowd might turn on him in the aftermath of his decision to seek an early release from his contract, but the boos were exclusively directed to the Warriors and match officials as the visitors won at the Wests Tigers spiritual home for only the second time.

Unfortunately Marshall's 194th appearance for the club - and last at Leichhardt - was not among his most memorable as the 12th-placed Wests Tigers hopes of making the play-offs faded further.

Though Marshall was obviously the main attraction but Johnson, emerged as the influential playmaker by scoring a double, setting up the match-winner and extending his goal kicking sequence to 20.

The Warriors have now won six of their last seven matches.

Marshall was teary-eyed at kick-off and his vision might still have been blurred moments later when his inside ball to James Tedesco went to ground to gift the Warriors prime attacking position.

Wests Tigers muscled up in defence and in the sixth minute Marshall made amends when a sweet pass cut out two players before centre Blake Ayshford, in his 100th game for the club, put young wing David Nofoaluma over in Manu Vatuvei's corner.

Marshall's halves partner Curtis Sironen, who is destined for the back row when Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses eventually make the step up from the under-20s, also supplied a quality ball for Chris Lawrence, who bounced off Konrad Hurrell to double the Wests Tigers score.

The Warriors could make little impression as the Wests Tigers, buoyed by the emotional quotient produced by Marshall and Ayshford dominated.

It took until eight minutes before the break for the Warriors to profit from a set move when Ben Matulino backed into the defensive line, creating a gap for interchange forward Suaia Matagi who maintained his composure before giving Johnson an unimpeded run to the posts.

The score rewarded an improved performance but Auckland-born wing Tim Simona - one of the next generation locked into a new deal following Marshall's contractual impasse - provided a glimpse of the future when he palmed off Hurrell with ease and hared down the flank before chipping ahead and beating Kevin Locke to the touch down.

Marshall converted to close out a fluctuating opening 40 for the icon who could still do no wrong for the majority of the 11,436 crowd despite a couple of loose passes and a kick that flew out on the full.

Trailing 14-6 at the break, the Warriors reduced the deficit soon after the resumption when a Thomas Leuluai bounced up for Simon Mannering who flicked on to Hurrell.

Johnson put the Warriors in front for the first time with 25 minutes to play when he outstripped Adam Blair and Tedesco after grabbing a Lawrence knock on and racing 90-metres.

A Johnson grubber off an upright almost paid dividends but Mannering was ruled to have knocked on.

Johnson was also denied a treble when Simona punched the ball dead but the duo would not be denied when Johnson's nudge enabled his captain to beat Lawrence for the match-winner with 12 minutes remaining.

Winning coach Matt Elliott praised Johnson and hooker Nathan Friend for holding the Warriors together.

"Shaun's second-half performance, in particular, was really pivotal," he said.

"Shaun obviously came up with some pretty striking plays and I'm over the moon for him.

"He's starting to learn that the more responsibility he takes on, the better he plays."

Tigers veteran Liam Fulton said it had been a tough week for Marshall but refused to blame his impending departure as any excuse for the loss.

"He probably didn't know how the crowd were going to react to him," Fulton said.

"He was probably pretty emotional during the week, but we got on with the job and that probably wasn't the reason we lost.

"I thought he went alright."

Fulton said the Tigers were clinging to the mathematical hope of still making the playoffs.

"I know it's getting harder, but we're still positive," he said.

"We're still putting in each week and we still think we're a chance."

The Warriors remain in 11th place on the ladder, a win outside the top eight; their next assignment is hosting premiers Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

The Storm will be refreshed by their second bye, which followed a State of Origin-depleted line-up's 39-0 loss to the Bulldogs in a replay of last year's Grand Final.

NZ Warriors 24 (Shaun Johnson 2, Konrad Hurrell, Simon Mannering tries; Shaun Johnson 4 goals) Wests Tigers 14 (David Nofoaluma, Chris Lawrence, Tim Simona tries; Benji Marshall goal). HT: 6-14

Shuan Johnson
MATCH-WINNER: Shaun Johnson high-fives captain Simon Mannering after his second half try, his second of the match, part of his 16-point haul in the 24-14 win over the Wests Tigers.

- Fairfax Media, AAP

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