Warriors turn on the style to stay alive
The Warriors have kept their tournament alive with a powerful 22-8 win over group leaders Wests Tigers on the back of more Shaun Johnson brilliance.
Facing a must-win game against one of the surprise packets of the tournament, the home crowd favourites got off to the perfect start when the electric Johnson created space with a flowing run, sending it out to Ben Henry who found Manu Vatuvei on the left flank. Despite serious attention from the defence as he tried to ground it in the corner agonisingly close to the touch-in-goal line, the officials awarded the try to send the crowd into full voice.
But when a Sam Tomkins drop-out didn't quite travel the 10 metres the Tigers went on the attack, with captain Chris Lawrence able to dive over in the corner after a good run by Brenden Santi.
The Warriors were again able to create something from nothing in centre field when Ngane Laumape ran around the defence and found a flying Solomone Kata, whose sprint to the corner just managed to beat the defence.
Some dazzling Johnson footwork set up a chance for Ken Maumalo who kicked ahead for himself, but he wasn't quite able to ground it on the stroke of half-time.
The home fans didn't have to wait too long to cheer another try as Tui Lolohea produced a great solo run inside the Tigers' red-zone just after half-time to make it 12-4.
Ben Henry then produced one of the strongest solo tries of the weekend, shrugging through the defence from 15 out and carrying a defender with him as he burst over the line next to the posts.
Tigers rookie Manaia Cherrington, another player who has been strong throughout the tournament, clawed one back for the group leaders with a strong solo effort of his own.
But the irrepressible Johnson couldn't be kept out of it, producing a brilliant scything run and short ball to send Kata away again, the young winger easily outpacing Brenden Santi on a long run to the corner, making the final score 22-8.
Tigers centre Tim Simona said the Warriors were tough to stop when they get it right in the Nines format.
"They're unstoppable, especially if they have the ball like that," Simona said. "We spoke about holding the ball, but they obviously come out and put pressure on us.
"The crowd's so big, they're always tough to play here where there's a lot of Warriors fans."