TWL RD 3 WRAP: WARRIORS PULL OFF CAPITAL MIRACLE

The Warriors snatched one of the most incredible wins in the club’s history to stay unbeaten, producing three scoring plays in the last three and a half minutes to pip Canberra 20-19 in an absolute thriller at GIO Stadium.

Shaun Johnson booted back-to-back field goals to break the winless Raiders’ hearts in a great escape that further underlined the growing belief that the Warriors are categorically a new team.

A disastrous start saw the Warriors slip behind 12-0 early, they were buffeted in the penalty count from go to whoa, and they spent a big chunk of the second half trailing 19-6. But their superior conditioning and the class of their all-star spine kept them in contention until the championship minutes.

It was a torrid opening for the visitors. The Warriors conceded six penalties in the opening six minutes, with the last of those infringements seeing Adam Blair go to the sin-bin for a cheap shot on Aidan Sezer that sent the prop’s Twitter detractors into overdrive.

Prior to that the Warriors’ goal-line defence had been outstanding – highlighted by another try-saver of the year contender from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – but the 12-man unit let Siliva Havili and Elliot Whitehead cross in quick succession.

Under the pump and a man short, the Warriors rallied when Blake Green, Shaun Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck combined nicely to send Peta Hiku over for his first try for the club in the 14th minute.

The Warriors had ample opportunity to level up, getting the better of the rest of the first half. But the speed and urgency that characterised their attack in the opening two rounds was down a couple of notches and several ill-conceived offloads resulted in turnovers.

Their defensive grit against the larger Raiders side was a huge positive, however, halting the hosts’ scoring until Sam Williams popped a field goal over on the stroke of halftime on the back of a Nick Cotric bust.

But back-to-back penalties early in the second half piggy-backed the Raiders upfield and Cotric terrorised the Warriors again, beating a slew of defenders to force his way over out wide for a 17-6 lead.

Jarrod Croker edged his side a crucial 13 points clear when the Raiders yet again found favour with the referee’s whistle soon afterwards.

The Warriors hit back just before the hour mark through Tohu Harris, whose footwork near the try-line proved too much for the Green Machine.

The match decelerated into an absorbing arm-wrestle for the next 10 minutes, while the Warriors flubbed their subsequent attacking chances.

Then it just opened up with three and half minutes left – sustained pressure eventually found Issac Luke with a gaping hole in front of him at dummy-half, diving over to cut the deficit to a point.

The remaining couple of minutes will go down in Warriors folklore. In consecutive sets they rolled downfield and Johnson piloted over a pair of one-pointers, pinching an improbable victory – their first since 2009 via a deadlock-breaking field goal.

The Warriors were subpar in several areas compared to the opening two rounds, but their resilience, composure and fitness levels got them over the line for an extraordinary victory.

For mental strength, it was a result to compare with any ever produced by the Warriors.

The club is 3-0 for the first time in their history – and the expectation levels just became that must harder to contain.

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