Johnson and Lolohea fire as Warriors stun Broncos
The Warriors produced their best performance of the year to convincingly defeat the Broncos 36-18 in Auckland on Saturday night.
While one swallow does not a make a summer, it was an impressive statement of intent from the Kiwi side, following a torrid period of results and off-field disruptions.
As they ran in seven tries halfback Shaun Johnson looked relaxed and somewhere near his best again, while from the back of the field Tuimoala Lolohea hurt Brisbane with two line breaks and over 150 running metres.
From the opening set the Warriors looked prepared to chance their arm with the pill, and at times it meant they tripped themselves up with simple errors.
But it also saw them produce some excellent attacking play, as they resigned Brisbane to a third-straight loss.
Johnson got things going when he sold a big dummy on a sliding defensive line nine minutes in, with the Kiwi international converting the effort before turning provider seven minutes later.
Solomone Kata’s line break and quick play the ball had the Broncos back-pedalling, before Johnson drilled a grubber kick from halfway which he regathered and offloaded to a waiting Bodene Thompson.
Jacob Lillyman then crossed for the home side’s third, with Johnson converting once again, to make it 18-0.
A wayward offload from Lillyman gave the Broncos a rare dose of quality field position, which they used to full effect by scoring via Auckland native Alex Glenn on the half hour.
After Brisbane were denied two tries in the final two minutes - with forward passes being ruled against Anthony Milford in the lead-up on both occasions - the home side could consider themselves lucky to still hold an 18-6 advantage at the break.
Minutes into the second period and the Warriors were back into the scoring, with David Fusitu’a producing a stunning leaping finish up over the top of a helpless Lachlan Maranta, before captain Ryan Hoffman strolled through untouched to establish a 22-point lead.
To their credit Brisbane wouldn’t go away, and when Jodran Kahu beat Manu Vatuvei to a loose ball in the in-goal area with just over 20 minutes remaining the visitors gave themselves a sniff.
But further tries to Fusitu’a and Kata stretched the Warriors’ points tally out to 36, with Brisbane’s Tevita Pangai Junior scoring a consolation four-pointer in the dying minutes to make the final score 36-18
The result marked the first time Brisbane have lost three straight since rounds 15-18 in 2014, and was their biggest defeat of the season.
Warriors 36 (David Fusitu’a 2, Shaun Johnson, Bodene Thompson, Jacob Lillyman, Ryan Hoffman, Solomone Kata tries; Johnson 4 goals) defeated Broncos 18 (Alex Glenn, Jordan Kahu, Tevita Pangai Junior tries; Corey Parker 3 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 15,097. Half-time: 18-6.