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Johnson on song as Warriors beat Bulldogs

Shaun Johnson wound back the clock and scored the match-sealing try, as the Warriors beat Canterbury 42-18 in Auckland.

The novelty of having the Warriors playing back in New Zealand clearly hasn’t worn off yet, with 16,212 filing into Mt Smart Stadium to watch the 12th-placed team play the 14th-placed one.

While both clubs’ seasons have been disappointing, they combined for an entertaining match that saw the Warriors get the crowd on their feet early.

The result was especially pleasing for interim coach Stacey Jones, after his side had slumped to a 48-10 loss to the Rabbitohs last weekend.

“The big focus for us all week was attitude and a change in mindset from the week before,” said Jones.

“You can fix attitude in a week … coming home also really boosted this group. It was a huge relief, we shortened everything up.

“I thought our leaders were outstanding tonight. When they play well, everyone else follows.”

Viliami Vailea scored after just six minutes, the flying Dallin Watene-Zelezniak picking up an errant Matt Burton pass to make it 12-0 to the home side in as many minutes.

Burton made amends shortly after, taking the ball to the Warriors’ line and setting up a try for Jake Averillo.

However, an error off the resulting kickoff meant that the Warriors wiped that out straight away.

More good work from Johnson and Reece Walsh sent Ed Kosi over in the corner, with Walsh’s sideline conversion making the score 18-6.

The Bulldogs made a perfect start after the break.

After making a fantastic cover tackle, Walsh went from hero to zero for the Warriors as he tried to run the ball off his line only to spill it straight into the hands of Kyle Flanagan.

The Bulldogs halfback scooted around under the posts to cut the deficit to six points.

The Warriors were made to pay for not scoring after the ball was gifted back to them by the Bulldogs, with Euan Aitken knocking on over the line.

While they maintained the attack, this time it was Johnson who threw a pass straight to the worst possible target.

Josh Addo-Carr happily accepted the gift and burned 90 metres down the sideline to score in the corner, with Burton’s kick locking the scores up.

Again though, the Bulldogs were guilty of switching off at a crucial time.

Eli Katoa trucked straight through the middle to restore the Warriors’ lead.

Six minutes from time, Johnson made amends for the intercept, stepping through the line and throwing a beautiful dummy to score under the posts.

Ed Kosi then tacked on his second before Addin Fonua-Blake rumbled over to blow the score out a little more.

Bulldogs coach Mick Potter said his side gave away cheap ball when it mattered.

“We probably made too many errors in the first half, so we were chasing the game. But they were good tonight, they came up with some really good last tackle plays,” he said.

“Having that home advantage I think is really good for the Warriors.

“The sooner they can get back here (full time), the better. But it wasn’t very good for us, though.”

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