NRL: Shaun Johnson caps dream week by steering NZ Warriors to resounding win over Cronulla Sharks

What a week for Shaun Johnson. 

Fresh from re-signing to stay at NZ Warriors for another season and welcoming his second child, alongside wife Kayla, the halfback put in a commanding performance in a 44-12 victory over Cronulla Sharks at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart.

Notching a second victory over his former side this season, Johnson created three of the Warriors' eight tries, saved one at the other end and kicked five conversions for good measure.

After conceding the opening try, the Warriors ran in six tries and 38 points, before the Sharks could respond, grabbing a consolation effort in the final minutes.

Rocco Berry and Luke Metcalf celebrate.
Rocco Berry and Luke Metcalf celebrate. Photo credit: Photosport

A run of four tries in 12 first-half minutes set the stage for the second half, with four more coming in the second 40, as the Warriors sent the Sharks back to Australia empty-handed. 

Victory raises the Warriors ahead of both the Sharks and South Sydney Rabbitohs into fourth on the NRL ladder, with 11 wins and 26 competition points so far this season.

The 32-point margin of victory marks the Warriors' largest home win of the season, bettering the 30-8 win over Redcliffe Dolphins. 

Despite a trysaving tackle from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, the Sharks couldn't be denied at the second time of asking, as halfback and captain Nicho Hynes slipped through the defence to bag the opener after 10 minutes.

Down 6-0, Johnson sparked the Warriors into life in the first half, taking the field at home for the first time since bringing up 200 games for the club at Sydney last weekend. 

As the Sharks lost econd-rower Teig Wilton to injury, the Warriors struck back, with Nicoll-Klokstad sending Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over in the corner for his 14th try of the season.

The Warriors took the lead on 26 minutes, when Johnson sent Rocco Berry over for the second try, before doing the same for Addin Fonua-Blake three minutes later.

Lining up against his former side, Luke Metcalf added the Warriors' fourth try of the half, after being sent into a gap by Wayde Egan. 

Metcalf looked to have had a double before the break, latching onto a Johnson grubber, but was ruled offside, as he grounded the ball. 

The Warriors' blitz saw them take a 22-6 lead into the break in front of a rapturous home crowd.

The only slight of a dominant opening 40 minutes was the sight of captain Tohu Harris leaving the field, appearing to suffer a wrist injury. 

The Sharks looked to have struck back after the break, as Thomas Hazleton intercepted a Johnson kick to race away and score, but replays showed the interchange forward had knocked on in gathering the ball.

Johnson saved another try minutes later, forcing Ronaldo Mulitalo into touch, as he dived for the lefthand corner.

After scoring in the first half, Berry set up the opener in the second, breaking through the line, before finding Nicoll-Klokstad back inside him to go ahead 28-6, after Johnson's conversion.

The Warriors celebrate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's try against Cronulla Sharks.
The Warriors celebrate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's try against Cronulla Sharks. Photo credit: Photosport

Johnson had his third assist, when a short ball saw Josh Curran barge his way over the tryline for the Warriors' sixth of the evening.

Watene-Zelezniak had a second entering the final 15 minutes, producing an acrobatic finish to move the Warriors in front 38-6, and with his evening's work done, Johnson was given a rest for the final 10 minutes, after yet another stunning effort in an incredible season. 

NZ Kiwis forward Briton Nikora ended the Warriors' run of 38 unanswered points, scoring inside the final 10 minutes to see the Sharks avoid a blowout. 

Cronulla ended proceedings with 12 men, as Hynes was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul, before Adam Pompey made the most of the numerical advantage to complete the win with the Warriors' eighth try. 

The Auckland side face a short, five-day turnaround, backing up to host Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart on Friday.

NZ Warriors 44 (Watene-Zelezniak 2, Berry, Fonua-Blake, Metcalf, Nicoll-Klokstad, Curran, Pompey tries; Johnson 5, Metcalf conversions) Cronulla Sharks 6 (Hynes, Nikora tries; Hynes 2 conversions)