The Warriors have put Saturday’s 20-16 NRL golden point win against Penrith at Mt Smart Stadium down to one thing: aggression.
Halfback Shaun Johnson’s 89th minute wonder-try capped off a period of dominance for the hosts, who also had two earlier opportunities to put the game to bed.
Hooker Issac Luke failed to pass to Johnson for a field goal attempt in the 83rd minute, while Johnson had a field goal charged down in the 87th minute before running over to score two minutes later.
Skipper Ryan Hoffman said his side had made it their mission to ramp up the defensive pressure on Penrith.
He was backed up by fullback Tuimoala Lolohea, who was left “speechless” by the result.
“We made a point of winning the aggression battle in golden point,” Hoffman said.
“There was no panic there, doing a snapshot that gives the opposition seven tackles and gives them an opportunity.”
Coach Andrew McFadden said the golden point period was “scrappy” but was glad Lady Luck finally smiled upon the Warriors in miserable conditions in Auckland
“We got ourselves into position a couple times and maybe we overplayed a little bit, but we probably were a little bit nervous,” he said.
Johnson, who shimmied past onrushing Panthers defenders to score next to the posts with less than a minute to spare, felt the forward pack had played their role to perfection by pinning the Panthers back.
“I thought the boys in the middle did a terrific job putting people like myself in that position to come up with plays like that,” Johnson said.
“We stayed on task and defended really well, especially with the wind.” Panthers coach Anthony Griffin said on Friday that the Warriors were due a golden-point victory, but was upset by the way his side lost their composure in extra time.
His side turned over the ball too easily and failed to produce in attack.
“Unfortunately in golden point we hardly had any possession, we turned it over three times,” Griffin said.
“In the end, that’s a big lesson for us.”