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Johnson scare as Warriors top Titans

Johnson scare as Warriors top Titans
Shaun Johnson has sent a scare into the Warriors camp, limping from the field with a left ankle injury five minutes from full-time in his side's 24-16 win over the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.

In a gripping contest that saw Dave Taylor send a not-so gentle reminder to Queensland selectors with a first half hat-trick, it was the power and poise of the Warriors' own wrecking ball in Konrad Hurrell that proved the difference.

Trailing 16-14 at the break in a match that see-sawed throughout, the Warriors hit the front for the third time in the night in the 46th minute when Simon Mannering inched his way over following a short ball from Feleti Mateo, but it was a second to David Fusitua in the 62nd minute that clinched a valuable away win for the New Zealanders.

After Johnson and Chad Townsend had both earned repeat sets with judicious kicks into the Titans in-goal, the Warriors finally turned a mountain of possession into points when they shifted to the right and Hurrell bumped off Brad Tighe before passing to Fusitua who scored his second of the night.

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The win may have come at a cost though, with Johnson unable to shake off an ankle injury incurred in the 75th minute and watching the closing stages from the sideline.

After a wildly fluctuating first half where the Warriors finished on the end of a 6-2 penalty count and both sides were guilty of ill-discipline with the ball in hand, it was a much more controlled and composed display from the visitors in the second stanza, with Johnson's kicking game failing him only once.

They restricted the Titans to just nine sets in the first 35 minutes after the break and after being asked to do a ton of defending the home side were unable to mount any meaningful shots down the other end when they got their chance.

It was the third win in their past four games for the Warriors, who are now within reach of the top eight ahead of their clash with Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium next Sunday.

With the vast majority of support despite being more than 2000 kilometres from home, the Warriors opened the scoring in the 10th minute and for the third straight game it was Ben Matulino who grabbed the side's first four-pointer.

On the back of a repeat set, the Warriors went left through Townsend, who hit Matulino short with a superbly timed pass that opened up a wide channel for the front-rower to charge through.

Eight minutes later it was the Titans' chief destroyer who got his side on the board, when Taylor picked up a Sam Tomkins fumble from his bootlaces before diving over in the left-hand corner.

Johnson lit up Cbus Super Stadium – and allayed any fears over a nagging groin injury – with a 60-metre arcing run around Titans fullback William Zillman sparked by a powerful charge up the middle of the ruck and deft offload from late inclusion Fusitua.

Taking advantage of a 57 per cent share of possession and a 6-2 penalty count, the Titans struck back in the 28th minute when an elaborate passing movement close to the Warriors line saw the ball spun first to the right and then back to the left, where Blair was able to send Taylor on a crash course to the tryline, his powerful run grazing the chalk to earn his second of the night.

The Warriors were finally able to establish field position late in the half and took the lead for the second time of the night when they found the Titans short on the right. Hurrell displayed poise to go with his power to scoop up a wild pass from the turf before passing to unmarked Fusitua to score in the right.

Working up a dynamic combination with new five-eighth Maurice Blair, Taylor was given the space and time to cause the greatest amount of destruction throughout the first half, the highlight being his third try of the half in the final minute of the opening stanza.

After Paul Carter charged down a Johnson kick 25 metres out from his own line, he regathered before finding David Mead, who did well to hang on to a difficult pass before being tackled 30 metres out from the Warriors' tryline.

Immediately the ball was shifted to the far left and rather than overplaying his hand, Blair gave Taylor time and space, the 'Coal Train' dummying to his outside to rid himself of any attention from Johnson before pirouetting in an almost balletic movement with the ball outstretched one-handed over his head before planting it over the tryline.

Henry was successful with his third attempt at goal and the home side – much to the chagrin of the large Warriors contingent – took a 16-14 lead into the break.

Warriors 24 (David Fusitua 2, Ben Matulino, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering tries; Chad Townsend 2 goals) def. Gold Coast 16 (Dave Taylor 3 tries; Beau Henry 2 goals). Crowd: 18,753.

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