In-form playmaker Shaun Johnson has produced yet more magic to guide the Warriors to a 28-14 win over Melbourne in a pulsating NRL contest in Auckland.
In an encounter featuring some spectacular tries on Sunday, Johnson’s effort with 13 minutes to go halted a dangerous Storm fightback.
With just six points separating the teams, the halfback’s light feet took him past three defenders for his fourth four-pointer in the past three matches.
The win before a 17,278 crowd was the Warriors’ third in a row and cemented their spot in the top eight.
It also lifts them above Melbourne, who have lost five of their past six fixtures.
The Warriors had three front-liners, bulldozing runners Manu Vatuvei (shoulder) and Konrad Hurrell (arm), and NSW Origin second-rower Ryan Hoffman (calf), missing from the originally named side.
Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk sounded a warning with a 40-20 from the game’s first set.
But it was the Warriors who began to dominate the early exchanges and they hit the front when winger Tuimoala Lolohea finished off a long-range attack.
David Fusitu’a, in for Hurrell, then produced one of his signature spectacular put-downs to grab the Warriors’ second try.
Hard-working back-rower Bodene Thompson increased the margin by powering his way over and Johnson’s second conversion made it 16-0 at halftime.
Melbourne had their opportunities, particularly as the Warriors began turning over the ball in their own territory.
But they came up against some solid defence, with winger Richie Kennar twice denied.
The Storm finally profited from being given good field position from another Warriors turnover, Cronk’s cross-kick gathered in by winger Marika Koroibete for a try.
Yet another home side error was punished by prop Kenny Bromwich barging over.
The Warriors then came up with an outrageous response.
Hooker Nathan Friend gathered in a kick, then delivered a pass between his legs as he fell over Bromwich’s back.
Johnson continued the attack with a back-flip pass and Lolohea produced a diving finish for his second try.
Melbourne hit straight back through Bromwich’s second touchdown, before Johnson produced his telling strike.