We earned the right to play: Johnson
It is the Shaun Johnson brilliance that brings fans to their feet but the superstar Warriors half insists that there was one major difference against the Titans on Saturday night; his team earned the right to cut loose.
Sixty minutes of perseverance paid off for the Warriors as they ground Gold Coast into the Cbus Super Stadium turf with a near flawless second half of footy of which Johnson took full advantage, scoring two tries himself and laying on two others with deft grubber kicks into the Titans' in-goal.
The evolution of the Warriors under coach Andrew McFadden still waivers from a team prepared to compete to one which tries to get by on style over substance but it was obvious against the Titans that with pressure comes points, and in rapid succession.
"Part of our downfall and part of our ability is to throw the ball around and play that real ad lib style of footy but what we've really learned is that we've got to earn the right to do that," said Johnson, whose personal tally of 20 points took him beyond 500 career points in the NRL.
"We can't just expect to go out there and do it straight off the bat and I thought the last two weeks we've really done that.
"We only opened them up in the back-end of that second half and that's a credit to our forwards for sticking to the process and making them come out of the corners.
"It's always fun when you've really earned something, that makes it a bit sweeter."
Rather than having any lasting scars from letting a big lead slip against the Roosters last week, both Johnson and coach Andrew McFadden said that their performance against the Titans had its foundation in their 25-21 defeat a week earlier.
Stung by their 32-point belting by the Rabbitohs in Round 13, McFadden said that learning to play with more patience had become their new mantra the past fortnight.
"It's been our theme probably for the past three weeks post the Rabbitohs game," McFadden said.
"We really lacked patience in that game, we were much better last week against the Roosters even though we didn't get the points but there was a lot to like and we built on that performance from last week.
"In the Rabbitohs game when we got belted we showed no control or composure and we didn't put any pressure on the opposition. Against the Roosters we did that a fair bit better and had majority of possession in that game, we just lacked a bit of execution and probably a little bit of class at times.
"Tonight we got the balance right and what was most pleasing was that we put the Titans under a fair bit of pressure but when we didn't score we didn't just throw it out. We got repeat sets and even when we didn't get repeat sets we backed it up with some quality defence."
With a healthy boost to their for-and-against the Warriors have jumped up into seventh spot on the ladder and will face the Raiders at Mt Smart next Saturday.
A win over Canberra ahead of the bye in Round 17 would put the Warriors in an excellent position to return to the finals for the first time in four years and Johnson said the challenge now is to produce football of a similar standard next week.
"We really needed to bounce back after two average performances," Johnson said.
"We really let ourselves down so we put a lot into this game and I'm just so stoked that we could come over here and put everything that we'd spoken about during the week into action.
"We're not getting carried away. A lot of people are going to look at this performance and say what they're going to say but as a group it's important we look at where we can get better. The challenge for us is to back it up next week."