Johnson golden try sinks Panthers
A brilliant individual try from Shaun Johnson in golden point lifted the Warriors to a thrilling 20-16 victory over the Panthers on Saturday, saving the Kiwi club from a third-straight defeat in extra time.
A heads up play from Solomone Kata saw the centre come up with a one-on-one strip, before a few tackles later Johnson aborted his plans for a field goal and instead sliced through a rushing defensive line from 15 metres out to secure victory at Mt Smart Stadium.
It was the fourth time in the Warriors' last five matches that additional time was required to find a winner, but just the second time in five attempts this year that they have managed victory in golden point.
The Warriors' ninth win of the year put them back into the NRL Telstra Premiership top eight on percentages, with the Panthers dropping to ninth spot.
Despite the conditions not suiting it at times, both sides seemed determined to play an expansive brand of football, which often resulted in errors.
Through the first 40 minutes there were a total of 13 mistakes committed between the two sides, making for a stop-start affair.
A penalty from Nathan Cleary on 10 minutes gave Penrith a 2-0 lead, but the joy proved to be short lived after David Fusitu'a climbed high to claim a try for the home side.
Despite the conversion attempt being only a few metres to the side of the uprights, Issac Luke someone bounced it off the post, in a mistake which would later deny his team a win in normal time.
The Panthers looked to have hit back a short time later through NSW Origin winger Josh Mansour, only for the play to be called back for a forward pass in the lead-up.
Back-to-back sets for the Warriors five minutes from the break were followed by a Ken Maumalo try, which after Luke's sideline conversion, sent them into the sheds 10-2 up.
Four minutes into the second stanza Cleary caught the Warriors napping when he dummied and took the line on, poking his nose through before offloading to Isaah Yeo, who passed for an unmarked Tyrone Peachey to cross.
But the Warriors' reply was swift, with a sharp right-side move featuring touches from Johnson and Tuimoala Lolohea finishing in a second four-pointer for Fusitu'a.
A Penrith ruck infringement 12 metres out and in front of the sticks gifted Luke with an easy two, before a barnstorming effort from Mansour wrestled the Panthers back into the contest with 15 to go.
Mansour beat three would-be tacklers and carried Manu Vatuvei over the line in a try which started 40 metres out from the line, but with Cleary's conversion just wide the visitors still trailed 16-12.
With eight to go and the hosts appearing to be getting the upper hand in the arm wrestle, Panthers hooker Peter Wallace booted a 40/20 and on the ensuing set Mansour got his double to level the scores.
Up against the sideline Cleary couldn't convert, leaving scores locked at 16-all with six minutes to go.
Johnson had the chance to nail a game-winning field goal inside the final minute, but his effort was well wide.
A drop from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the first half of golden point gave the Warriors a full set inside the attacking 30, but come last play they couldn't get the ball out of dummy half for a field goal attempt, and were instead tackled by the waiting Penrith markers.
But as the final minute ticked away Johnson shaped for a drop goal, before feeling the heat and stepping back inside to weave through for the winner.
Warriors 20 (David Fusitu'a 2, Ken Maumalo, Shaun Johnson tries; Issac Luke 2 goals) def. Penrith Panthers 16 (Tyrone Peachey, Josh Mansour 2 tries; Nathan Cleary 2 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Half-time: 10-2. Crowd: 13,026