The Warriors have come back from the dead to seal a 25-24 golden point win over the Cowboys with Shaun Johnson slotting the decisive field goal at Moreton Daily Stadium.
Tom Dearden opened the scoring after slicing through for the first try of the night to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
MATCH CENTRE: Warriors vs Cowboys teams, SuperCoach scores, videos, updates
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The Warriors hit back with a try to Jesse Arthars to take a 6-4 lead after 13 minutes.
A high tackle by Reece Walsh allowed Valentine Holmes the chance to lock up the scores at 6-6 after 17 minutes.
Addin Fonua-Blake produced a huge blunder in the in-goal to allow Scott Drinkwater the easiest of tries and give the Cowboys a 12-6 lead.
Kyle Feldt finished off a long-range try for the Cowboys against the run of play to give the Cowboys an 18-6 lead.
Josh Curran dived over from close range after a 40/20 to Chanel Harris-Tavita to make it 18-12 at the break.
The Warriors picked up where they left off in the second half as Kodi Nikorima darted out of dummyhalf into a gaping hole to lock up the scores at 18-18.
Valentine Holmes finished off a pinpoint movement from the Cowboys to see them retake the lead 22-18.
Marcelo Montoya produced a high tackle on Peta Hiku to allow Holmes to extend the Cowboys lead to 24-18.
Euan Aitken broke through some soft defence from the Cowboys to lock up the scores at 24-24.
The Cowboys inexplicably didn’t go to for a field goal with three minutes to play allowing the Warriors to go up the other end.
Shaun Johnson had a field goal charged down before he was caught with the ball on fifth tackle leaving Reece Walsh to be the hero, but his field goal went wide.
Shaun Johnson missed a field goal in golden point before finally icing the winner to seal a famous win for the Warriors.
Here are the key takeaways from the match.
WARRIORS’ PRODIGAL SON SEALS EPIC WIN
There were plenty of heads turned when the Warriors backflipped on their decision to go in a new direction without Shaun Johnson only to sign him again three years later.
However, Johnson showed his match winning class to lead the Warriors to an epic comeback win against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys looked in control of the game at 24-18, but the Warriors were able to lock up the scores.
Johnson had a field goal charged down in regulation, while Reece Walsh also missed a field goal, before both teams headed to golden point.
Johnson also missed a field goal in extra time, but he showed his class and experience to eventually ice the game winner much to the delight of his teammates, who mobbed him in celebration.
Johnson is growing into his second coming at the Warriors and finished the game with 23 run metres, a linebreak assist, a try assist and the crucial one-pointer in an all-round performance.
If the Warriors can keep games tight as they did against the Cowboys, they are always a chance with Johnson and Reece Walsh in the team.
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DEARDEN CONTINUES MAGIC START TO SEASON
The Broncos would be pulling their hair out with every performance from Tom Dearden this season after he produced another starring display against the Warriors.
Dearden’s running game has been his biggest improvement this season and Adam Reynolds would love to have the former Brisbane player outside him at the Broncos.
Dearden set the tone for the night when he produced a dummy and go to score the opening try against the Warriors.
“Dearden throwing the dummy and straight through and the Cowboys on the board early,” Brenton Speed said.
“Tommy Dearden is having a breakout 2022.
“Equal with Mitch Moses for the most try assists and the Warriors were worried he was going to put on another one there.”
Shane Flanagan praised Dearden for adapting and knowing his role outside halfback Chad Townsend in 2022.
“What a start to his season,” Flanagan said of Dearden.
“Last week I thought he was the best player on the park for the Cowboys in a beaten side. He just kept competing and competing.
“On this occasion the Warriors don’t come forward at all and Dearden got on the outside of one of the Warriors’ better players in Josh Curran and just pulls through the tackle.
“He shows to the outside and Shaun Johnson takes the show and it is just a one-on-one miss.
“What a start to the season for the young man.
“He is a powerful ball-runner and moving to the No.6 he has had to take on a bit more responsibility with his running game and let Chad Townsend focus on getting the team around the park.
“That has freed Dearden up just to run and play what he sees. Last week he was good and he has started tonight perfectly.”
Michael Ennis echoed Flanagan’s sentiments on Dearden’s much improved running game.
“Dearden got them off to a great start,” Ennis said.
“He spoke to us pregame about how he is enjoying running the footy and he scores with his first opportunity down on the try line.”
When he wasn’t scoring tries he was setting them up as he did for Kyle Feldt’s crucial try before halftime, which impressed Benji Marshall.
“The Feldt try, Holmes didn’t get there, but it was the vision of the halves to see the space on the right,” Marshall said.
“Dearden got the ball to Townsend and they knew where it needed to go.”
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WARRIORS FAIL TO UNLEASH MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON
The Warriors brought Shaun Johnson to the club to take the pressure off Reece Walsh in attack, but the problem is they now need to find a way to get their fullback the ball more.
Walsh struggled to get involved against the Cowboys with the ball consistently finding its way to Johnson in attacking field position.
Johnson would be better off underplaying his hand and getting the ball to Walsh as much as possible because he has the speed and skill to create points out of nothing.
Shane Flanagan lamented the Warriors and Johnson’s inability to get Walsh in the game.
“With 15 minutes to go before halftime and I can’t remember once when Reece Walsh has touched the ball in good field position,” Flanagan said.
“They went to the right-hand side with Shaun Johnson and he didn’t get a touch.
“They have got to get good field position for him to come into his own and cause some trouble for the Cowboys.”
Flanagan believes the Warriors need to throw away their structure and allow Walsh to get the ball when he wants it and often if they want to get the best out of him.
“When they are in the opposition’s half that is where Shaun Johnson and Reece Walsh need to pair up together,” Flanagan said.
“Not necessarily on the right-hand side. Get over on the left-hand side.
“They need to play both sides of the field because they are too dangerous when they come together.”
BONUS HIT: DRINKWATER FILLS KEY COWBOYS VOID
The Cowboys would have been worried having arguably their best attacking weapon in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow out injured, but Scott Drinkwater proved the perfect replacement.
Drinkwater burst onto the scene for the Storm as a fullback and many experts including Todd Payten believe it is still his best position.
Drinkwater wants to play five-eighth, but while his attacking game is brilliant at No.6 he struggles with the defensive side of the position.
Fullback allows him to inject himself at the right moment as he did on several occasions against the Warriors including an opportunist’s try after a huge blunder form Warriors skipper Addin Fonua-Blake.
“So casual from the captain and Drinkwater was gifted a try,” Speed said.
“What was the Warriors captain thinking? It is a costly one.”
Shane Flanagan praised Drinkwater for his high energy and commitment to every play in an impressive first outing in 2022.
“Once again Scott Drinkwater was in the previous play and put a nice pass on,” Flanagan said.
“Then he chases this kick and Fonua-Blake gets an awful bounce,
“But once again credit to Scott Drinkwater. He never gave up and chased the kick really hard.
“He got the bounce that he wanted. He forced the error. And he’s come up with a try in his debut game this year.”
The Warriors host the North Queensland Cowboys in a crucial clash at Moreton Daily Stadium.
Addin Fonua-Blake will play with Bunty Afoa shifting to the bench and Eliesa Katoa to 18th man.
Bailey Sironen is set to start in the second row and Josh Curran is named at lock with Jazz Tevaga and Ben Murdoch-Masila both out.
Aaron Pene and Jack Murchie are the new names on the interchange bench for the Warriors.
For the Cowboys Scott Drinkwater replaces Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who is out due to injury
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown has been named to start in the middle with Reuben Cotter on the bench.
It sets the scene for a crucial clash as both sides aim to stay in the top eight.
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