Johnson stars in Sharks win over Warriors

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Shaun Johnson could be the Warriors' saviour next season but he was no friend in Sunday night's 20-12 loss to Cronulla.

Re-joining the Warriors in 2022, the Sharks halfback literally put the boot into his ex-club, keeping the pressure on with five forced drop-outs and pinpoint kicks to steer the Sharks to an important win.

The victory put his side's season back on track, the Sharks holding onto eighth position on the ladder after a shock loss to Brisbane last week.

"Over the last six weeks when we've been playing more consistently, he's been a real key to that with the consistency he's been playing with," said coach Josh Hannay.

"He's less the big play guy these days and more the veteran half.

"He's understanding as he gets older the tempo of rugby league and when to pull the trigger and take a chance and when to take a percentage play."

On the other hand, it's left the Warriors with an uphill battle to force their way into the top-eight over the next two months with just five wins from their season.

They looked dangerous early when teenage star Reece Walsh shot through to score off a grubber kick from recent recruit Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Sharks winger Siona Katoa took a swing at the ball to knock it dead but Walsh was quick to pounce.

It was an ominous start for the would-be Queensland Origin fullback on his return from a hamstring injury, but he had a tough night from then on.

He knocked on a kick close to the line to invite the Sharks back in at 6-all and was later steamrolled by Braden Hamlin Uele on the way to the Cronulla forward's try.

The rampaging Sharks prop pulled off the post-try celebration of the season after seemingly knocking out teammate Jack Williams with a punch to the head, and then elbowing him on the ground.

The move shocked all for a split second before it was realised what was happening.

It was all an elaborate and convincing act to raise money for ex-NRL player Moses Masoe, who suffered a spinal injury while playing at the start of 2020.

Tries to Connor Tracey and Braydon Trindall on his 22nd birthday got the Sharks to a 20-6 lead at halftime and they managed to hold on to it in a gritty second half, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scoring a consolation try late.

"Our effort in the second half to defend, Shaun Johnson controlled the game very well and got a lot of repeat sets, and to be able to put ourselves in the contest and stay there was good," said Warriors coach Nathan Brown.

Sunday's game could be the last game in NSW for an indefinite period with the NRL moving the competition to Queensland amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

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