NRL: Shaun Johnson the golden-point hero as New Zealand Warriors bounce back by beating Canberra Raiders

Warriors 21
Raiders 20

Mark this down as the great escape.

The Warriors were on the canvas several times during this match, and looked all at sea for much of the game, but somehow emerged with a 21-20 golden-point victory over the Raiders on Saturday.

Shaun Johnson potted the 82nd-minute field goal to complete the comeback, after a Reece Walsh penalty in the last minute had levelled the scores.

Such a scenario had looked unlikely after a dismal first half – where the Raiders should have been further ahead – and especially when the Warriors trailed by eight points with fewer than 20 minutes to play.

But they found something, lifting their intensity if not their accuracy, to come home strong, though their late penalty will be disputed.

It’s a vital result – after the 70-10 Melbourne mauling on Anzac Day – and showed there is a reservoir of spirit within this team, though they were perhaps fortunate to face the hapless Raiders, who are on a run of five successive defeats and endured another second-half freeze.

The Warriors only managed a 58 per cent completion rate, while there were a staggering 35 errors across both teams.

Five eighth Daejarn Asi was outstanding on debut, while Euan Aitken and Wayde Egan were other standouts.

The Warriors still have a long way to go, but at least they again have a winning platform to build on, though Jesse Arthars could be another casualty, with a shoulder injury.

Coach Nathan Brown made changes to the selected team, with Adam Pompey and Arthars moving to the flanks while Rocco Berry and Viliami Vailea were deployed in the centres.

Given the circumstances, the first 40 minutes were pretty dire. Instead of a rebound, it was more of a sequel. The Warriors looked flat, with mistakes and ill-discipline as they leaked their most first half points of the season.

And when they did threaten to get back in the contest, things went pear shaped, with errors in each of their sets after scoring points.

They struggled to stop the offload from the Raiders, who found space up the middle, while the Warriors were mostly pinned in their own half.

The Raiders scored three first-half tries and came close to a couple more, only denied by impressive last ditch tackles by Asi and Walsh.

Jack Wighton’s try was the pick of the bunch, as he powered through three would-be tacklers, though it was also symptomatic of passive defence.

The Warriors had almost no possession or territory, but got a foothold in the game after an ambitious Jordan Rapana pass was fumbled, and Pompey exploited the overlap to finish in the corner.

After allowing the Raiders to score just three minutes later, the Warriors again responded, with Vailea scooping up a clever Asi kick, albeit from a fortuitous bounce.

The intensity lifted in the second half, though the quality from both sides was poor, with a remarkable number of errors. The Warriors were barely hanging on, but the Raiders kept opening the door and the excellent Asi sent Aitken across, with a superb face ball after drawing defenders to him to close the gap with 17 minutes to go.

That lifted the Warriors. Johnson looked to have scored soon afterwards as he stepped through, with the try was disallowed for a marginal obstruction call.

More errors seemed to have ended any chance of a comeback, though Walsh went close, before Lodge was caught high, to allow the late penalty.

The Raiders then coughed up possession in their first set of the extra time period and a few plays later Johnson iced the game, coolly stepping an onrushing defender before nailing the kick.

Warriors 21 (Adam Pompey, Viliami Vailea, Euan Aitken tries; Reece Walsh 3 cons, pen, Shaun Johnson field goal)
Raiders 20 (Matt Timoko, Hudson Young, Jack Wighton tries; Brad Schneider 3 cons, pen)
HT: 12-20

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