Shaun Johnson slots golden point field goal to defeat desperately poor Raiders

Canberra Raiders, featured, League, New Zealand Warriors, NRL, Rugby League



New Zealand Warriors have bounced back from their record defeat last week to grab a scrappy win in golden point, with Shaun Johnson slotted his second match-winning field goal of the year to defeat the Canberra Raiders 21-20.

The Kiwis will take any win they can get at this stage, but in truth this was a poor game: the Warriors made a lot of errors and gave away a lot of penalties, but the Raiders were even worse.

Canberra scored their last point in the 34th minute and surrendered a 20-12 lead – and even that might well have been more, so poor were the Warriors in the first stanza.

The ‘Canberra Faders’ tag that has followed Ricky Stuart’s men around has never been more apt than in a game where they could have been 20 points up at half time but contrived to lose in golden point.

In the first half, when the Raiders did their best work, they managed to complete at 86% and score 20 points while their opponents were as low as 59%. In the second half, both teams were south of that.

New Zealand did well to fight back into the game, but Canberra made life so easy for them. By the time Shaun Johnson stutter-stepped the winning field goal over the bar, it had seemed inevitable for a long time.

The first try set the tone. New Zealand ceded field position with a penalty and a set restart, allowing easy field position from which Matt Timoko crossed.

Warriors discipline was killing them. They were losing the ruck and when stand-in starting hooker Adam Elliott broke in behind, a penalty gave Canberra the chance to extend the lead. Addin Fonua-Blake got the talking to form the ref.

These are two bad teams, so it was inevitable that the Raiders would let the Warriors back in. Jordan Rapana threw a horrible pass to Nick Cotric for the most unforced of errors, and moment later, Adam Pompey was walking over in the corner.

Anything Canberra could do, the Warriors could do worse. Addin Fonua-Blake coughed up free ball to the Raiders and they struck back immediately through Hudson Young.

The Spoonbowl was living up to its name. New Zealand lucked into an immediate response: Daejarn Asi dinked a kick that took a horrendous bounce past Rapana and Viliami Vailea was on hand to get his first NRL try.

The gun was pointed at the foot again by the Warriors. Eliesa Katoa took his turn to throw the ball away on the first set after points. Jack Wighton, taking up his position on the left edge, skipped through a tackle and the Raiders had their lead restored.

The Raiders had enjoyed close to 60% of the ball and 66% of the territory, so were good value for the 20-12 half time score, and might well have thought that it could have been more.

The second half continued in much the same vein for the Warriors, with the only difference being that the Raiders decided to join them down there. Ten errors and five penalties in less than 20 minutes told a story.

New Zealand had struggled with their discipline throughout and it deteriorated further too.

Matt Lodge will likely face a ban after leading with an elbow into contact with Corey Harawira-Naera, and Ben Murdoch-Masila might be sat next to him after swinging his at Joe Tapine.

With 15 to play, the Warriors finally managed to string some football together. Daejarn Asi, easily the best in a blue jumper, laid on a try for Euan Aitken. The kick went over to move New Zealand within two with ten to play.

Suddenly it looked like the unlikeliest of comebacks was on, but the Warriors reverted to type. Shaun Johnson got over, but was pulled up for an obstruction by the bunker. When they returned to good ball, there was a knock on at the play the ball.

The Kiwis got a suitably scrappy chance at the win. Brad Schnieder dropped a kick cold and presented New Zealand a full set. Corey Horsburgh hit Lodge high and suddenly scores were level.

The circumstances of the winning point were emblematic. Canberra, taking the first set of the extra period, threw a needless forward pass directly from dummy half and gifted the ball to the Warriors. Johnson, just like he did against the Cowboys at Redcliffe, did the rest.

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