The game drew the attention of many spectators, with Panthers general manager Greg Alexander declaring that the Warriors were a “top four side” behind their top game.
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“It was flawless,” he said of the Fox League problem.
“When you have a team that knows what they’re doing with the ball and they play with purpose and a little defensively, if they control more movement they can beat anybody.
“They’re such a football team. On the back of today’s game, I’d put them in the top four.”
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak registered a brace, while Rocco Berry, Addin Fonua-Blake, Luke Metcalf, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Josh Curran and Adam Pompey also scored for the Warriors.
The victory did not come without concern for the Warriors, as the ageless Shaun Johnson was forced off the court in the final 10 minutes.
Johnson assisted on three of the Warriors’ eight rebounds on the afternoon, before exiting 13 minutes into the period.
The 32-year-old broke away and collided with the onrushing Toby Rudolf, who appeared to connect with Johnson, prompting the Warriors to fumble.
Johnson remained on the field for five minutes after clashing with Rudolf before being sent off with the result in doubt.
“It’s a brilliant decision from the Warriors coaching staff to get Shaun off,” Michael Ennis said in commentary at the time.
“He’s been knocking this evening. His football has been poor and most of them (points) have been behind the number 7.”
Cronulla started the game well, with Hynes scoring the first try of the afternoon, but were soon caught off guard when Johnson and Wayde Egan ran riot.
Johnson and Egan had their fingers in everything, as the Warriors ripped off four tries in a stunning 11-minute attack to go into the sheds with a 22-6 lead.
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“After 20 minutes of that time, it put Cronulla on the attack,” Ennis said.
“That’s where Egan and Johnson did the damage, especially Cronulla’s left attack.”
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Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon’s half story was one of encouragement as Cronulla came out of the gates facing a much more aggressive side.
Cronulla went close twice when Thomas Hazelton was denied a try after Bunker’s comment, before Ronaldo Mulitalo was denied in the corner after trying to save Johnson.
However, the Warriors showed their mettle under new coach Andrew Webster, stifling under pressure from the Sharks before responding with four tries in the second half.
As exciting as the Warriors were, the result was another blow to the Sharks, who have struggled against top eight players all season.
“The difference between the two sides, the football the Warriors play and the courage they have, you can’t compare it to the Sharks,” said Alexander.
“The Sharks have a long way to go before they struggle in the top eight, which has been their problem over the last 24 months.”
The win lifted the Warriors into the top four, one place ahead of the Sharks. The Warriors will be at home next week when they host the Raiders, while the Sharks host the Sea Eagles.
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