The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles were crowned the 2011 premiers in front of 81,988 strong ANZ Stadium crowd after defeating the New Zealand Warriors 24-10 in the Grand Final.
Manly had periods of dominance and thoroughly deserved the victory, but it did not come without a challenge from the Warriors who threatened until the late stages in a particularly toughly contested closing quarter to the game.
Manly put on the first try of the game in the 31st minute when Daly Cherry-Evans helped Brett Stewart over the line. Lyon added the extras for a four point lead to the men in maroon. The Warriors began to tire and Manly took full advantage continuing to take the game to the Warriors.
The Sea Eagles were rewarded for the persistence collecting their second try in the final minute of the half. A team effort undid the Warriors defence before Cherry-Evans sold a couple of dummies and helped himself over the line. Lyon converted and Manly took a 12-2 lead into the interval.
There was an error-riddled opening to the second half, but Manly managed to maintain their dominance. Defence however proved the greatest feature of the game, with the first possible try of the second half, coming in the 55th minute was denied by video referees who ruled a double knock on and gave Manly a second chance: calling for a goal line drop out.
Minutes later Glenn Stewart was awarded the first legitimate try of the half in the 57th minute after a genius team effort and superb flick pass from William Hopoate put him over to score. Lyon continued a perfect afternoon with the kicking tee by helping Manly to an 18-2 lead heading into the final quarter of the game.
The New Zealand side switched on for the final 20 minutes, and Warriors young gun Shaun Johnson put the run around on the Manly defence to put Manu Vatuvei in in the corner. A difficult conversion attempt proved too difficult for Maloney and Warriors trailed by 12. 2 minutes later, they had another opportunity to reduce the deficit, but this time the hand of Vatuvei kept the deficit at 12.
Warriors were able to put some more points on in the 68th minute when Elijah Taylor was helped over in the right corner. The try scorers weren't making it easy for goal kicker Maloney who again failed to convert, to foreshadow the end of New Zealand's scoring for the match.
With just over ten minutes left in the match, the Warriors were ready to throw everything at their opponents. Some razzle dazzle football in the 71st minute earned the Warriors a repeat set in Manly territory but a loose pass followed by a knock on, meant the chance went begging.
The Warriors continued to apply pressure in the following sets, dominating the Sea Eagles in defence and threatening to break the line in attack, however, the Manly defence was up to the challenge. An error by the Warriors in their own half with three minutes left in the game, sewed up the game for the Sea Eagles, gifting them some great field position.
Manly had no problem converting their lead into another grand final victory. The Kiwi defence held strongly until the final seconds of the match when Jamie Lyon stretched out to score. Michael Robertson was given kicking duties and nailed the conversion in the final match of his NRL career.
Manly took the game and the 2011 premiership that came with it with Glenn Stewart named Clive Churchill medalist in the post match presentations.
Manly Sea Eagles 24 defeated New Zealand Warriors 10
National Rugby League - NRL Grand Final - Sunday October 2, 2011 5:15pm
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer and Matt Cecchin
Video Referee: Russell Smith and Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Paul Holland and Dan Eastwood
Halftime: Manly Sea Eagles 12 New Zealand Warriors 2
MANLY SEA EAGLES (24)
Tries: Brett Stewart, Glenn Stewart, Jamie Lyon, Daly Cherry-Evans
Conversions: Michael Robertson (1/1), Jamie Lyon (3/3)
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (10)
Tries: Manu Vatuvei, Elijah Taylor
Conversions: James Maloney (0/2)
Penalty Goals: James Maloney (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Season 2011 all comes down to the next couple of hours, this is the NRL Grand Final. Welcome to League Unlimited's coverage of the Rugby League Grand final. We've had trans-Tasman guests on centre stage all afternoon. The biggest game shall be no different where the Warriors will make the second grand final appearance of the club's short history in a clash with long time Rugby League silver-tails, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. The men in maroon today boast the youngest halves pairing in Grand Final history.
This afternoon's curtain-raisers saw the Aukland Vulcans taken down on the full-time siren by the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in the New South Wales Cup grand Final.
New Zealand faired better in the Toyota Cup grand final, after a stray attempt at conversion helped them to a golden point finish, where halfback Meads' boot gave them a 31-30 victory.
Grand Final TEAM NEWS: The Sea Eagles will the 1-17 named earlier in the week. A few superficial changes to the Warriors with Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia and Feleti Mateo all to start from the bench. Russell Packer will start at prop, Lance Hohia will start in the hooker position and Elijah Taylor will start from Mateo's second row position.
The rains have returned as players take the field for the national anthems.
The sky has cleared and some blue sky has come to greet us as we set up for kick off.
1 min: James Maloney kicks off and Manly get first use of the football.
2 min: Warriors muscling up in defence early and Cherry-Evans takes the first kick of the game from inside the manly 40.
2 min: Manly defence does well to keep the Warriors well inside their half in the Warrior' first set.
3 min: Strong set from Manly, gets them 30 out for the kick but it isn't a great one and Locke fields it in goal for a 20 metre restart.
4 min: Warriors put in a superb attacking effort and a short bomb forces a knock on from Hopoate to put Warriors right on the attack, giving them a scrum 20 out.
5 min: And Warriors bomb the opportunity on the first play when Johnson off the back of the scrum passes it to Maloney who drops it cold.
6 min: We're seeing some superb defence in these early stages and Cherry-Evans is getting creative with the boot for Manly.
8 min: Both sides hitting hard in both attack and defence in a superb start to this grand final.
10 min: Manly chancing their arm with Foran finding a flying Brett Stewart who is well read by the defence who knock the ball loose from him.
11 min: PENALTY, first of the game goes to the Warriors against Glenn Stewart for a strip.
12 min: Hohia loses the ball 30 out to get the Warriors off the attack.
12 min: Forward pass from Jamie Lyon to Hopoate on halfway gives the Warriors another opportunity.
14 min: A William Hopoate touch gives the Warriors six again right on the Manly line.
14 min: An early kick in the tackle count from Maloney to Vatuvei cannot be cleanly gathered and Manly get a 20 metre tap.
15 min: Manly earn a scrum 40 out after a Shaun Johnson mistake.
17 min: Manly penalised for being inside the ten will help Warriors out of their own danger zone.
18 min: Warriors get trough the set and Johnson puts a bomb up which is cleaned up by Robertson.
20 min: PENATLY to Manly, against Mannering for being inside the ten.
20 min: Manly get six again 20 out after Luck gets a touch on the ball.
21 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Manly TRY.
21 min: NO TRY, scrum. Hopoate is ruled to have gone over the sideline before putting the ball down.
24 min: We're seeing strong attacking plays from both sides, but the real story of the game so far has been the defence which from both sides has been fantastic.
25 min: Forward packs are making big metres now and first points are looming.
26 min: Ball comes loose in the tackle and Matai is ruled to have knocked on.
27 min: PENALTY to the Warriors, George Rose is put on report for crushing Sam Rapira.
28 min: PENALTY GOAL
Warriors take the two from the penalty and James Maloney collects them.
New Zealand Warriors 2-0
30 min: Mateo turns the ball over early in the tackle count to offer Manly an opportunity to hit right back.
30 min: PENALTY to Manly against Maloney for a play the ball infringement.
32 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles!
Manly opt to play it and it pays dividends when Cherry-Evans puts Brett Stewart in to score the first try of the game. Jamie Lyon adds the extras.
Manly Sea Eagles 6-2
35 min: Warriors are showing signs of fatigue as we are are nearing half time whilst the Sea Eagles look energised by the try.
36 min: Manly go right on the attack against a tired Warriors defence but the cover defence does superbly to keep them out.
38 min: PENALTY to the Sea Eagles and Heremaia is put on report.
39 min: Manly attacking the Warriors left flank but come undone by a Brett Stewart pass that is intercepted by Mateo.
40 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles
Genius team try from the men in maroon across a couple of plays that undo the defence before Daly Cherry-Evans dummies twice before burrowing in for a try near the posts. Lyon boots over an easy conversion.
Manly Sea Eagles 12-2
40 min: That will be the half with Manly leading the Warriors 12-2 in the 2011 Grand Final.
40 min: Tony Archer blows time back on; second half under way.
42 min: Solid opening sets to start the second 40 from both sides.
42 min: And Vatuvei makes an error on the first tackle to gift Manly excellent field position.
44 min: Robertson runs into touch a few metres out on the third to letthe Warriors off the hook.
46 min: A nasty head clash between Bill Tupou and Steve Matai sees Matai with a nasty gash around the eye and Tupou walk up the tunnel for some stitches.
47 min: Locke makes an error on the last tackle and New Zealand are forced to turn over.
48 min: Daly Cherry-Evans puts in a perfectly placed kick that forces an error out the back from the Warriors, gifting Manly a fantastic opportunity.
50 min: Foran turns the ball over inside the New Zealand 20.
50 min: Complete set Warriors.
51 min: Manly with plenty of momentum are making big metres up the middle.
52 min: Captain Mannering makes an error early in the count.
53 min: Manly are getting through their sets with ease, continuing to threaten the New Zealand line.
55 min: A couple of errors from the Warriors are gifting the Sea Eagles opportunities to blow out this lead.
55 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Manly TRY.
55 min: NO TRY! Line drop out, double knock on as Foran is ruled to have knocked on after an Inu knock on gave him the opportunity to score.
59 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles!
Foran boot finds Lyon who gets i on to Cherry-Evans who runs around the defence before passing it wide to Hopoate who flicks it inside to Glenn Stewart to score. Converted by Lyon
Manly Sea Eagles 18-2
62 min: Big line break from Maloney finds crucial field position.
62 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Warriors TRY.
63 min: TRY
TRY ti the Warriors!
Superb work from Johnson runs around the defence before finding Vatuvei out wide and putting him in to score in the corener. Maloney misses a difficult conversion.
Manly Sea Eagles 18-6
65 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Warriors TRY.
65 min: NO TRY, a Vatuvei hand gets in the way of a would be try.
67 min: Manly fighting hard, but Warriors will not die, putting in a mammoth effort in this final quarter.
68 min: Superb defensive set from the Warriors won't let Manly out of their 20.
69 min: TRY
TRY to the Warriors!
The Warriors are in for their second when Elijah Taylor is put in to score on the opposite flank. Maloney again misses the conversion attempt.
Manly Sea Eagles 18-10
71 min: Superb attack from the Warriors earns a repeat set forcing a Manly goal line drop out.
72 min: Johnson turns the ball over early in the count 20 out from the Manly line.
75 min: Warriors applying plenty of pressure, but Manly will not succumb and Warriors are proving their own worst enemies with errors denying themselves.
77 min: An error from the Warriors gifts the Sea Eagles great field position.
78 min: Tony Archer rules that a Warriors pass has gone forward in goal and asks for a goal line drop out.
80 min: TRY
TRY to Manly.
Manly score one last try as Jamie Lyon stretches out for a 4 pointer. Michael Robertson is given the opportunity to collect some points in his final game and strikes the ball beautifully to collect two points.
Manly Sea Eagles 24-10
80 min: That will be all she wrote. The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles a re the 2011 NRL premiers.