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A big Eden Park crowd were treated to a sensational match when last year's grand finalists met for a first start rematch. The Home crowd had plenty to cheer about with superb play from the Warriors but were disappointed by the final result as Manly took the game 26-20.
The first half was fantastic viewing with both sides putting on thrilling displays intent on getting their seasons off to a flying start. Manly took an early lead with some superb ball movement giving Wolfman David Williams the first try of the match.
By the twenty third minute, Manly found themselves up 16 points to nil, helped by some Warriors ill discipline and their own superb ball movement, resulting in what could be the try of the season from Daly Cherry-Evans and a try to Steve Matai.
The home side may have been down 3 tries to none, but they were certainly not out, they looked remarkably positive and chanced their hand and after some superb touches from gun halfback Shaun Johnson found themselves only trailing by six at the interval courtesy of tries to Manu Vatuvei and Shaun Johnson himself.
The Warriors had an undisciplined start to the second half, making errors and compounding them with penalties. The errors helped Manly collect the first try of the half, five minutes in with Tony Williams forcing his way over. The errors continued to flow from the Warriors, but when they did finally find their way to the completion of a set, Locke - the biggest culprit of errors early in the half - found his way over the try line.
The Warriors continued to fearlessly chance their arm, some errors did follow, but the worst infringement came from Matt Ballin who earned himself a stint in the sin bin. Manu Vatuvei lived up to his rocks or diamonds reputation, having an equal number of golden and terrible touches, in the 68th minute claiming his second try.
Warriors were behind by two and frenetic play from both sides followed. Glenn Stewart managed to claim a try courtesy of a mistake. Lyon failed to convert an easy shot and we were in for a thrilling finish with the Warriors 6 behind with seven minutes left to play.
In the minutes that followed, the Warriors threw the kitchen sink at it and put on some sublime passages of play, but just could not do enough. Manly were unwilling to let go of the match and claimed a thrilling first up victory by six points. There are some injury concerns for both sides, but also many positives coming out of the match.
Whilst Manly fans have become accustomed to a slow starting team, this match gave them plenty to cheer about. Manly took the match 26-20, but fans of both sides had plenty to be upbeat about with wonderful performances from many players, particularly Warriors young guns Shaun Johnson and Konrad Hurrell.
New Zealand Warriors 20 were defeated by Manly Sea Eagles 26
National Rugby League - Round 1 - Sunday March 4, 2012 12:00pm
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Tony Archer and Ben Cummins
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Grant Atkins
Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 10 Manly Sea Eagles 16
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Tony Williams (1 Try)
2 Points - Shaun Johnson (1 Try)
1 Point - Konrad Hurrell
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (20)
Tries: Manu Vatuvei (2), Kevin Locke, Shaun Johnson
Conversions: James Maloney (2/4)
MANLY SEA EAGLES (26)
Tries: Glenn Stewart, Steve Matai, Tony Williams, David Williams, Daly Cherry-Evans
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (3/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLwarman.
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Good afternoon and welcome to Eden Park for the 6th game of NRL Season 2012. Here we have the pleasure of seeing last years grand finalists go head to head in the match to open both their seasons. Eden Park has promised a huge crowd and this should be a thrilling contest.
The Toyota Cup curtain raiser saw the Warriors under 20s side defeat the young Manly side 30 points to 16.
TEAM NEWS: The Warriors have one superficial change which will be of interest to many fantasy football coaches, with rookie Konrad Hurrell to start on the bench, making a straight swap with Ben Henry who will start in the centre position. Fisiiahi, Inu and Mara drop off their extended bench. For the Sea Eagles, George Rose is out, Tim Robinson in jumper 19 will replace him and Jorge Taufua will drop off the Manly extended bench.
1 min: Tony Archer blows time on and Manly are given the first use of the football.
2 min: Fantastic opening set from Manly, making 90 metres before the kick.
3 min: Kevin Locke doing a superb job for the Warriors at the back, but the visitors have the early momentum with great ball movement going forward quite hard.
4 min: First PENALTY of the afternoon awarded to the Warriors and this could present a good opportunity for them.
5 min: Another PENALTY to the Warriors, this ten out and the Warriors opt to take the tap.
6 min: A bad pass hands the ball over to Manly on their own try line.
7 min: Manly receive their first PENALTY of the afternoon and here is an opportunity for them.
10 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles
Manly push it out wide with some great ball movement, and the Wolfman who has no trouble finding the try line, collects Manly's first try of the season in the corner. Jamie Lyon's attempted conversion hits the uprights and bounces back in field.
Manly Sea Eagles 4-0
11 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Manly TRY.
12 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles!
Superb passage of play finds D. Williams out wide again, the video referee gives his vicinity to the sideline the benefit of the doubt as he puts a little chip in which Cherry-Evans flies through to collect for a try between the uprights. Lyon makes no mistake with this conversion attempt right in front.
Manly Sea Eagles 10-0
14 min: Warriors finally get some more possession, but a forward pass sees them fail to complete the set.
16 min: Manly continue to attack, but undo their own efforts with a knock on about 15 out from the Warriors' line.
16 min: PENALTY to the Warriors, and here should be a much needed opportunity for them.
18 min: Manu Vatuvei spills the ball in a dash for the line, should have been a try, but the ball just popped out of his grasp.
19 min: Warriors complete their best defensive set of the afternoon, keeping Manly inside their own half.
21 min: The Eden Park pitch is producing crazy bounce and a Ballin chip kick causes problems for the Warriors as Manly are awarded a scrum 10 metres out.
23 min: TRY
A set play from the back of the scrum and Manly do it all to easily as the ball goes to the right to Matai who dummies and dashes in to score. Lyon's boot shaves the uprights and sails safely through.
Manly Sea Eagles 16-0
25 min: Manly find a PENALTY on their own line.
26 min: Forward pass and Manly gift the Warriors a scrum 10 shy of halfway.
28 min: The Warriors force a line drop out and despite being down 3 tries to none, they are looking good with ball in hand.
29 min: PENALTY to the Warriors ten out and they are searching for a try.
31 min: TRY
Superb effort from Shaun Johnson who bamboozles the defence before finding Vatuvei out wide who runs in on an angle and scores closer to the uprights. Conversion attempt from Maloney unsuccessful.
Manly Sea Eagles 16-4
32 min: Cherry-Evans kick off is too long and the Warriors get a PENALTY at halfway.
33 min: And Manly concede another PENALTY about 20 out from the line.
35 min: TRY
TRY to the Warriors!
Another bamboozling effort from Shaun Johnson with sidesteps and whatnot and he goes through to score between the uprights under the attention of 3 defenders. Maloney converts.
Manly Sea Eagles 16-10
36 min: Mistake from the Warriors, Vatuvei somehow finds his foot on the sideline.
38 min: Some very positive play from Manly heading into the interval, looking for the momentum heading into half time, going right onto the attack.
38 min: A stray Manly pass is collected by the Warriors as Johnson continues to excite the crowd.
39 min: Vatuvei's foot again finds the sideline.
40 min: Manly return an error passing the ball into touch, and the scrum takes an age.
40 min: Frenetic final moments, but the half finally closes, with Manly holding on to their 16 points to 10 lead.
41 min: Second half under way.
43 min: Locke makes a blunder attempting to collect a bomb and Manly are awarded a scrum ten out.
45 min: TRY
TRY to Manly
Tony Williams forces his way over Warriors' defence to collect the first try of the half. Lyon's conversion is successful.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-10
47 min: Locke makes a great take, but is bundled into touch on the kick return and Manly have another opportunity to strike.
47 min: Now Manly are awarded a PENALTY 20 out.
48 min: Jason King looks to offload and loses the ball.
49 min: Manu spills the pill and Manly have another scrum inside the Warriors half.
50 min: PENALTY to the Sea Eagles, to continue an ill-disciplined start to the half for the home side.
51 min: Plenty of excitement being created as the Warriors claim the ball from a Stewart attempted offload and proceed to earn a PENALTY to get out of their danger zone.
52 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Warriors TRY.
53 min: TRY
TRY to the Warriors!
Superb cross field kick from Johnson and what results is Kevin Locke finding his way over the try line. Poor attempt at conversion from Maloney and the Warriors are 8 behind.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-14
55 min: Another error from the Warriors who have completed one set this half for one try.
56 min: Another PENALTY to Manly after a Warriors error.
57 min: Fantastic on line defence from the Warriors keeps the Sea Eagles out.
58 min: Ballin kicks one out on the full from his own 40 metre line, you'd have to call that a forced error from the speed of the Warriors defence.
60 min: Matulino spills the ball 5 out to let Manly off the hook.
62 min: A Warriors player is ruled to have knocked on and after a messy end to the set Manly get a repeat set 35 out from the Warriors' line.
64 min: A Manly error returns the ball to the Warriors.
65 min: PENALTY to the Sea Eagles to help them back into Warriors' territory.
66 min: Lewis Brown finds his way through the middle of the Manly defence fore a line break.
67 min: Matt Ballin is sin binned.
70 min: TRY
TRY to the Warriors!
Long pass from Johnson to Vatuvei out wide who runs in on angle to advance his position for his second four pointer of the match. Maloney converts.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-20
71 min: More frenetic play and Lyon Dashes down the line before being stopped by a superb Kevin Locke try saving tackle.
73 min: TRY
TRY to the Sea Eagles
Locke fumbles out the back and Glenn Stewart rolls in to score. Lyon makes an awful miss with the boot.
Manly Sea Eagles 26-20
74 min: Manu loses the ball yet again.
75 min: Buhrer hands the ball over 15 out from the Warriors' line.
76 min: Warriors pass the ball straight to Manly as Ballin rejoins play.
78 min: The
Harlem Globetrotters New Zealand Warriors put on a crazy last tackle play, but it just doesn't come off.
80 min: The Warriors find themselves with one last throw of the dice and after superb efforts in the last Warriors' play, Vatuvei bungles this one and the Sea Eagles clain a six point victory.