SHINING STAR: Shaun Johnson was back to his best for the Warriors in the big win over the Knights.
SHINING STAR: Shaun Johnson was back to his best for the Warriors in the big win over the Knights. GETTY IMAGES

Magic Johnson leads the way

Welcome back Shaun Johnson, welcome back Warriors.

With his team down 12-6 early, Johnson showed glimpses of his magic as the New Zealanders powered over the top of Newcastle to win their clash at Mt Smart Stadium 40-18, posting their first win of the season and ending an 11-game losing streak.

In a 10-minute burst straight after halftime, the Warriors put on three great tries to Blake Ayshford (43rd), Tuimoala Lolahea (49th) and monster winger Manu Vatuvei (52nd) to race to a 30-12 lead. After conceding an early try, Newcastle hit back with four-pointers to forward Sam Mataora and fullback Dane Gagai who stepped his way over in the 13th minute. Johnson, who suffered an ugly ankle injury late in 2015, was tentative in his first few games back this season, but he took his involvement up another level against the Knights, featuring in most of the Warriors' tries including a brilliant individual effort in the 64th minute where he stepped six defenders on the way to the try line.

The Warriors showed plenty of good signs, with hooker Issac Luke scoring one of his trademark tries to complete the 40-18 route.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell all looked increasingly confident as the Warriors attack finally clicked.

Newcastle winger Nathan Ross score a brilliant consolation try, breaking open the Warriors late in the game and then leaving Tuivasa-Sheck grasping at thin air with a big right foot step.

Two players were put on report for "chicken wing" tackles, with Ross looking in the most trouble after bending Hurrell's arm back in a second-half tackle.

Meanwhile, in other league news, Manly coach Trent Barrett's injury curse continues with star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans facing a month on the sidelines with a high ankle sprain and Jamie Buhrer (broken hand) also joining centre Steve Matai (neck) and forward John Green on the club's extensive injury list.

Barrett has a big selection call to make in the halves for Thursday's clash with South Sydney, with no obvious No.7 in sight.

Four players have been cited from the weekend, but only Titans forward Ryan James will miss next weekend's game with an early guilty plea. The NRL is also waiting for a medical report from Penrith on hooker Peter Wallace, who played on when it appeared he should have been taken off and examined for concussion late in the loss to the Dragons on Sunday.

Wallace made a tackle but then crawled back into the defensive line and had to lean against the goal post to stay upright.

The NRL's chief medical officer Paul Bloomfield will examine Penrith's report before any decision is made to fine the Panthers for breaching the concussion protocol.



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