Super sub Karl Lawton puts hand up for Warriors with stunning cameo against Dragons

2019-05-12 01:31:03

Karl Lawton has struggled for game time since joining the Warriors last year, but Stephen Kearney faces a hard time leaving him out of the side this week after a breathtaking cameo against the Dragons.

Elevated to the playing 17 following Issac Luke's demotion, Lawton needed just 20 minutes to make the most of his opportunity as the Warriors stormed back from a 12-point halftime deficit to secure a pressure-relieving 26-18 win in Brisbane.

Injected midway through the second half, the Australian utility provided the impetus the Warriors needed to finish the job and snap a four-game drought.

He ran for 92 metres, with four tackle busts and one line break, and looked like splitting the defence virtually every time he took off from dummy-half.

Luke is one of the Warriors' most experienced players and will surely come back into the fold at some point. But whether the Kiwis veteran is recalled for Friday's trip to Penrith could depend on the fitness of starting hooker Nathaniel Roache, who left the field in the 73rd-minute with a back injury after a solid display.

Lawton, who saw encouraging signs from Roache following the match, certainly couldn't have done much more to hold his place.

"Obviously Nate started and did a really good job for us, set the platform and led the way. Then it's my job to come off the bench," he told Stuff. "When there's one marker down it's my opportunity to try and make a break or get a quick play-the-ball.

"We showed a lot of potential in the first half, a few things didn't go our way but I thought the boys definitely showed confidence and courage to turn the game around.

"Across the park everyone stepped up to a whole new level."

Saturday's game was only Lawton's second of the year and eighth in total since arriving from the Gold Coast last season.

Asked of his mindset heading into game, the 23-year-old said: "Just to be the energiser bunny, really.

"I try to go out there with the boys and put my body on the line. You've go to do what you've got to do when you get your opportunity, so I just tried to put my best foot forward."

Lawton wasn't alone in adding impact off the bench.

While partly due to injury, the makeup of Kearney's interchange has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. But he got it right against against St George Illawarra.

Jazz Tevaga and Bunty Afoa made welcome returns from injury, both carrying for close to 100m, while Ligi Sao's ability to create second phase play opened up the Dragons defence.

"It's our job to step up and lead the way for the boys who set the platform in the first half," Lawton added.

"[Sao's] got that football brain where he can work things out, he knows when to throw it, when not to throw it. He's got a well-timed, measured offload," Lawton added.

"A few of the boys, like Jazz Tevaga turned the game around, just sparking energy."

Lawton also praised Kodi Nikorima for making a seamless transition from the Broncos in trying circumstances.

Eight days after being granted a mid-season release, the Kiwis playmaker kicked off his Warriors career in solid fashion, making several nice touches in the first half on both sides of the field.

He wasn't as involved after the break but showed a slick piece of skill to lay on Peta Hiku's second try which iced the result.

"He fit like a glove," Lawton said. "He only had limited training sessions through the week and look what he can do. Give him a few weeks and he'll be working wonders."

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