No Johnson, no worries as Warriors stun Roosters
The Warriors have sounded one hell of warning to the rest of the NRL, rubbishing the Sydney Roosters' tag as title favourites and their own awful record without Shaun Johnson in a stunning 30-6 upset at Allianz Stadium.
With Johnson donning his kit but staying across the ditch due to a groin strain, the visitors blew to $5 outsiders with the bookies in a two-horse race before kick-off.
A win percentage of just 12 per cent in 17 games without their million-dollar playmaker supported the snubbing, but Blake Green and replacement half Mason Lino paid it no mind as they engineered a resounding victory before a 14,493-strong crowd full of Warriors faithful.
For the first time in the club's history they are celebrating a 4-0 start to the season, while the Roosters finished with 14 errors, 11 penalties and another week of public pressure looming after another underwhelming outing.
Playing just his 10th NRL game in four seasons, Lino savoured the first win of his career with a try, seven goals from as many attempts and 18 points for the day, while outside men David Fusitu'a, Solomone Kata and Peta Hiku all piled on a mountain of work in the form of 50 runs and 501 metres between them.
Match: Roosters vs Warriors
Venue: Allianz Stadium
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For all the Warriors' dominance it was the Roosters cracking the whip early as Latrell Mitchell crossed untouched courtesy of a second-man movement that saw big guns Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary and James Tedesco passing the parcel with aplomb to create an overlap.
Mitchell backed it up with a try-saving tackle on opposite number Hiku soon after, but it was the Warriors next on the board as they kept coming down their right edge.
A switch across the ruck by Green put Tohu Harris one-on-one with Boyd Cordner, and his offload after heavy contact put Lino over for a 6-4 lead.
The visitors stretched it further when Leivaha Pulu charged onto a similar ball down the other edge and through a disjointed Roosters defence.
With a 25 per cent completion rate after 25 minutes the Roosters put themselves on the rack and the Warriors obliged through Kata, plundering the same channel as Pulu and carrying three defenders over the try-line for an 18-4 advantage.
As Cordner went straight up the tunnel for an HIA after heavy contact, Mitchell battled on through a leg issue but still looked the Roosters' most likely.
A penalty goal right on halftime was all the Tricolours had to show for an extended period spent occupying the Warriors red zone, as the visitors conceded five penalties in five minutes defending their line but were otherwise untroubled.
The second stanza started in the same fashion, until a triple play from Green swung momentum once more.
In the space of two minutes the Warriors recruit forced a changeover with dogged defence on Jake Friend, belted a 40-20 and followed up with a grubber for a repeat set.
The Warriors couldn't capitalise there and then, but two more points followed when Victor Radley's monster shot on Ligi Sao bounced up off his shoulder and drew a penalty for contact with the head.
But when Cronk piloted a kick out on the full to sum up the Roosters' sorry afternoon, Lino was putting it on a platter for David Fusitu'a to fly above Reece Robinson and nab a cross-field kick.
Late penalty goals saw Lino add to his own personal tally as the Warriors now head home with their tails up to host the struggling Cowboys next week in Auckland.