NRL 2022: Shaun Johnson heroics earn NZ Warriors thrilling golden-point victory over North Queensland Cowboys

Shaun Johnson has struck a golden-point field goal to earn NZ Warriors a heart-stopping 25-24 win over North Queensland Cowboys at Redcliffe on Friday.

The Warriors had to overcome a mountain of second-half possession and territory in the Cowboys' favour, leaning on a Herculean defensive effort to limit the damage and push through a torrid final 15 minutes.

That set the stage for Johnson, who - after spraying an earlier attempt from handy range - rifled an ugly but very effective game winner between the posts to secure the Warriors their third consecutive win and spark bedlam at Moreton Daily Stadium.

It was the most encouraging performance in recent history by the Warriors, who showed immense grit to weather the Cowboys' storm and gain revenge for their golden-point defeat to the same opponents last year.

The result lifts them to sixth on the NRL ladder, bouncing back from their season-opening two-loss skid.

The Cowboys struck first blood in the match, with Tom Dearden selling a simple dummy and run to cross from close range through some poor Warriors defence.

The hosts responded quickly, as Shaun Johnson laid on a well-timed short ball for a streaking Jesse Arthars running a strong angle against the defensive grain to power over the chalk.

In the 22nd minute, the Cowboys regained the advantage after Addin Fonua-Blake's excessively casual approach to fielding an in-goal grubber from Chad Townsend left a gift for Scott Drinkwater to pounce upon and dot down behind the posts.

Warriors players celebrate Euan Aitken's try.
Warriors players celebrate Euan Aitken's try. Photo credit: Photosport

With the Warriors in excellent attacking field position late in the half, Johnson's floating skip pass was intercepted by Cowboys wing Murray Taulagi to spark a sequence ending with Kyle Feldt crossing out wide against a scrambling NZ defence.

But the Warriors were able to muster one final offensive opportunity courtesy of a brilliant 40/20 by Chanel Harris-Tavita, setting the stage for Josh Curran to showcase some slick footwork and cut through to score by the posts at the stroke of halftime, reducing the NZ deficit to just six points.

The Warriors emerged from the sheds and immediately squared the scoreboard, with a mistake from the restart giving them great field position for Kodi Nikorima to dart behind the posts from dummy half amid some horrendous try-line defence.

Eight minutes later, the Cowboys edged back in front through Valentine Holmes, who was only just able to wrangled the ball on to the turf in the face of a desperation cover tackle by Walsh.

The Cowboys extended to a six-point buffer after a relatively harsh penalty for a high shot by Marcelo Montoya.

Finally able to secure some field position, the Warriors were back over the chalk with ease, as Harris-Tavita put Euan Aitken through a gaping hole to square the score at 24-24 with 15 minutes to play.

That's how the score remained at fulltime, setting up Johnson's game-winning field goal three minutes into extra time.

The Warriors will look to make it four straight, when they take on Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

Warriors 25 (Arthars, Curran, Nikorima, Aitken tries; Walsh 4 goals, Johnson field goal) Cowboys 24 (Dearden, Drinkwater, Feldt, Holmes tries; Holmes 4 goals). HT: 12-18