The Warriors have snapped a three-game skid with an enjoyable display against the Bulldogs, winning 24-12 at Accor Stadium on Friday night.
The Warriors went ahead with three fairly easy tries in the first 40 minutes to lead 18-0 at halftime.
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They would open the scoring in the seventh minute after a beautiful kick from Shaun Johnson confused the Dogs defense and Josh Curran was able to chase it down and score the try with no one around him.
“They got the Doggies,” Dan Ginnane said on Fox League.
The New Zealand-based team continued to “play at their own pace” throughout the first half, as Dan Ginnane noted.
The Bulldogs would have the occasional attacking opportunity in the first 40 minutes, but they failed to impress while the Warriors made the most of theirs.
They then crossed on 25 minutes, when Addin Fonua-Blake passed with ease, running into a clever short ball from Dylan Walker.
It was Fonua-Blake’s fifth try of the season, moving him atop the team’s try-scoring list.
Johnson would have his fingerprints on the Warriors’ third down, planting a precision bomb that was caught by winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
“He’s too good, Shaun Johnson,” Dan Ginnane said.
“What a vision. Johnson knew exactly what he was doing. It’s a pleasure to see it,” added Steve Roach.
That attempt relied on an Adam Pompey interception as the Dogs attacked the Warriors line.
Pompey ran 50 yards before he was run over, and Watene-Zelezniak scored the next play as the Dogs’ defense wobbled to recover.
The Bulldogs responded quickly after the break, with young Harrison Edwards breaking through from close range in the 45th minute.
Both sides were up to scratch on defense for most of the second half as points were hard to come by.
Despite the Bulldogs having some half chances, the Warriors kept their nerve, with a late try at young half Ronald Volkman, his first in the NRL, all but confirming the result.
The Bulldogs would score a consolation try through Jayden Okunbor, to make sure the score didn’t reflect the true result.
“That was a well deserved win for the Warriors,” Dan Ginnane said.
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JOHNSON STUNS IN BRILLIANT FIRST HALF
The Warriors essentially finished the game late in the first half, with their evergreen running back Shaun Johnson being a big reason for that.
The 32-year-old, who is still without a contract for next season, set up two attempts by the Warriors with pinpoint kicks that the Bulldogs had no answer for.
The first of these was a hit on second line Josh Curran, who chased it down and scored with no Bulldogs in sight.
The second came via bomb, with Johnson placing him in a spot where only Dallin Watene-Zelezniak could catch him and the winger did just that.
This was Johnson’s first game in three in which he recorded a try assist, clearly showing that he is a barometer of the team’s success as they won their first game in a month.
Greg Alexander said during coverage that he thinks this is the best Johnson has ever played.
“He’s chasing kicks, making tackles and doing things that make the Warriors a different team,” he said on Fox League.
“He’s a world-class player.”
“Try assists, some forced DNFs and some touches of class from Shaun Johnson. He has the keys to the entire engine room,” Cooper Cronk said.
“He is in a rich vein of form; It’s really turning back the clock.”
“He’s playing smart, physical and he’s playing direct and with leadership,” added Yvonne Sampson.
Smooth SJ boots delicate double assistance! | 01:06
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THE DAYS OF THE DOG ARE NOT OVER
Bulldogs players talked tough throughout the week about starting fast after the Raiders caught them with their pants down in the Magic Round.
But they fell short of that promise and the visitors took an 18-0 first half lead without having to do anything special to score their tries.
The Bulldogs have now lost five of their last six games and have the worst defense in the league, while their offense remains a major concern with just 187 points in 11 games.
There should be good news with Josh Addo-Carr returning next week for the Titans game, but they need to make some changes to give their fans reason to believe that good things are to come.
Karl Oloapu has done enough to win the jersey five eighths and perhaps his youthful exuberance is the spark they need to be more threatening.
They need to try something because things are starting to get ugly with the Bulldogs set to fall to the bottom of the table if the Dragons and Tigers win this weekend.
– Martin Gabor (NCA Newswire)
Addo-Carr can still push for place of origin | 01:01
THE FONUA-BLAKE TRY LINE AFFINITY CONTINUES
Did anyone predict prop Addin Fonua-Blake would be atop the Warriors’ try-scoring list after 11 rounds?
One of the most unlikely feats of this season continued when Fonua-Blake crossed for a first-half try, her fifth four-pointer of the season.
He has done it again. Addin Fonua-Blake, he’s got another try,” Dan Ginnane said on Fox League.
“He was one of their best players in the first half. He is in rare shape,” added Steve Roach.
Fonua-Blake is not only contributing to the score, but he has been excellent in all aspects of his game.
He ran 156 yards, recorded 30 tackles and had three tackles in an excellent all-around performance as the Warriors pack dominated the Bulldogs forwards.
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