NRL: Late NZ Warriors comeback forces rare NRL Golden Point draw with Manly Sea Eagles at Go Media Stadium

NZ Warriors star Shaun Johnson has sparked his team to a rate 22-22 NRL Golden Point draw against Manly Sea Eagles at Go Media Stadium, rallying them from 12 points down early in the second half to force extra time.

The veteran half scored a brilliant solo try to bring the home side back into the contest, then offloaded in the dying moments for winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to score and bring them within two points.

As regulation time ended, Johnson attempted a long-range field goal, but was tackled late in the process, and he slotted the penalty from in front of the posts to force added time. Neither side could break the deadlock

NRL: Late NZ Warriors comeback forces rare NRL Golden Point draw with Manly Sea Eagles at Go Media Stadium

A rare error from centre Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, celebrating his 200th NRL appearance, gave Manly the first real attacking opportunity, but despite a missed knockon, they were unable to capitalise.

Next time up the field, second-rower Corey Waddell surged through the Warriors defensive line and prop Jake Trbojevic offloaded near the tryline on the last tackle. The ball took a deflection off Warriors hooker Wayde Egan and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans pounced for a flukey try.

The Warriors appeared flat and second-rower Jackson Ford twice dropped passes fired behind him on attack. Cherry-Evans had his second try, when winger Tommy Talau dashed down the left sideline and put a pinpoint kick to the goal-line, with no Warriors defenders in sight.

When Dallin Watene-Zelezniak spilled the ball in a tackle inside his own 10, Talau was over in the corner and the Warriors were caught in the headlights, behind 16-0. They finally had field position and a repeat set, but when they went left, winger Marcelo Montoya was dragged into touch, as he lunged for the corner.

The Warriors got another repeat set, when Johnson kicked towards Watene-Zelezniak's wing and Talau was forced to knock the ball dead. Captain Harris carried strongly towards the posts and found interchange forward Jazz Tevaga running off his shoulder to score.

The home side weren't done. With halftime looming, Watene-Zeleniak scooped up a loose pass from five-eighth Luke Brooks to score and suddenly the 16-10 deficit did not look so daunting.

That late rally cost them Tevaga, who was on crutches when the second half began, leaving the Warriors interchange short for the remainder of the match. After the restart, they were immediately on the attack, but could not finish off the set near the Manly goal-line.

At the other end, Cherry-Evans showed his mastery by putting centre Ben Trbojevic through a gaping hole in the defence to score, setting the Warriors on the backfoot again, but Johnson turned back the clock, with a 40-metre surge for a try that gave his team hope. His missed conversion from a handy position would prove costly.

The Warriors could not crack Manly again until the dying moments, when Johnson found Watene-Zelezniak close to the tryline and then converted from near touch to bring them within two points.

From the kickoff, the Warriors had one last chance to snatch victory, but they needed to strike from deep inside their own half. They made it as far as the Manly 40, where Johnson attempted a long-range field goal to force overtime.

Instead, he was taken in a late tackle by prop Josh Aloiai and awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts, which he slotted to force Golden Point.

The Warriors had the first real chance to score in extra time, when Manly prop Tof Sipley bobbled the ball inside his own half, but Harris made the same mistake, as Johnson prepared for a field goal attempt.

Into the second period of added time, a penalty gave the Warriors strong field position, but Johnson's kick at goal went wide right from 35 metres.

With seconds left, Manly had their last chance to win from deep inside their half, but could not make enough ground for Cheery-Evans to zero in on the posts. The Warriors tried to run the ball out, but eventually settled for the hardfought tie.

After beginning their 2024 campaign with back-to-back defeats, they are now unbeaten over the past four games, although missing out on maximum points may come back to haunt them, when playoff positions go on the line at the end of the season.

They visit St George Dragons on Friday. 

NZ Warriors 22 (Watene-Zelezniak 2, Tevaga, Johnson tries; Johnson 2 conversions & penalty) Manly Sea Eagles 22 (Cherry-Evans 2, Talau, Trbojevic tries; Cherry-Evans 3 conversions)