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Stacey says goodbye with a winning
Fulltime score: Round 25 Manly Sea Eagles 20 v New Zealand Warriors 22
Match summary: The New Zealand Warriors have given Stacey Jones a winning farewell tonight with a 22-20 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
While the Warriors are out of the Top 8 running, this result leaves the Sea Eagles vulnerable to chasing teams eyeing 8th spot on the table.
The Sea Eagles started well with the opening try of the match in the 5th minute to Ben Kennedy, who was easily their best player tonight. However, the Warriors were able to hit back this time and scored three tries in thirteen minutes, before conceding a late try which gave the visitors an 18-10 lead at half time.
As expected, the Sea Eagles came out firing in the second half and two tries (including a second for Kennedy) gave them a 20-18 lead heading towards the end of the match. Manly dominated possession and field position for most of the second forty, and the Warriors seemed destined to end their season on another low note.
However The Little General, in his last NRL match after a stellar career, had different ideas. He was able to score in the 76th minute after Manly's defence was caught out on their own line to secure the victory for the Warriors.
Manly certainly improved on their effort from last week against the Sharks, but still look to be sitting ducks for an early finals exit - if they make it. There were a number of missed opportunities for them tonight that could have secured a finals position, but they lacked the execution to finish off their opposition.
The Warriors, with the Bye in the final round of the competition, will now look towards 2006 after a disappointing season this year. It's now goodbye for Francis Meli, Tevita Latu, Iafeta Paleaaesina, and of course the heart and soul of the club - Stacey Jones.
Eagles v Warriors match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: MANLY SEA EAGLES 20 Tries: Kennedy 2, Stephenson, Hicks Goals: Williamson 2/3, Hicks 0/1 NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 22 Tries: Faumuina, Wiki, Koopu, Jones Goals: Jones 3/4
Venue: Brookvale Oval Referee: Sean Hampstead Half time: Manly 10 Warriors 18
Live commentary: The final time the Warriors take the field in 2005, with the bye next week. They say goodbye to Jones, Paleaasina and Meli, who is not playing tonight. The Sea Eagles have everything to play for,their last home game at Brookvale, and a win tonight will see them in the finals for the 1st time in 7 years. A loss will mean a hard week next week for the Manly side
0 min: Kick-off
5th min: TRY - SEA EAGLES A mistake by the Warriors gives the home side a scrum 30 metres out from their line. Sloppy defence allows the strength of Kennedy over for the try. Williamson converts. Sea Eagles 6-0
10th min: NEWS The Warriors giving possession away with silly errors. Vatuvei (Warriors), saves a try from a kick in goal, using his torso to force pressure on the ball resulting in a goal line dropout
15th min: NEWS The Warriors defending continuously with the possession well in favour of Manly. Their defence only just holding out the wave of attack by the Sea Eagles. Score remains 6-0
16th min: TRY - WARRIORS Once again Jones is denied a try, this time in his final game. He went through a mile wide gap to get across the line. Hicks does well to strip the ball one on one. Faumuina was right on hand to dot the loose ball down. Benefit of the doubt goes the visitors way from the video ref. Jones converts 6-6
18th min: TRY - WARRIORS The Warriors straight back on attack with an excellent break by Webb. Mannering carries on with the momentum. Price crashes through close to the line and passes to Wiki who scores. Jones adds the two points. Warriors 12-6
25th min: NEWS The Manly side trying desperately to get back into the game, holding out the Warriors attack. Jones weaving a bit of his magic, is cutting up the defence, luckily for Manly they are scrambling well
29th min: NEWS Two close calls for the Manly defence with the outside backs of the Warriors not able to capitalise on Jones kicks
29th min: TRY - WARRIORS A mistake by Manly on the changeover, on the Warriors try line, and the Warriors launch another attack, this time devastating. Koopu crashes through the defence through a huge gap that opened up, to score. Jones converts another. Warriors 18-6
35th min: NEWS Both sides trying hard however putting too much pressure on themselves resulting in silly errors
38th min: TRY - SEA EAGLES Great insight by Monaghan to spot the Warriors winger Vatuvei way up in the line. He puts in a great kick for Stephenson to run onto and score. Hicks misses the conversion. Warriors 18-10
HALFTIME: A sloppy game at times. Both sides able to use their possession to their advantage close to their tryline, and the scrambling defence of both sides sometimes brilliant, sometimes very poor. The Warriors lead 18-10 at the break
Second half underway...
42nd min: NEWS Webb (Warriors) taken late by Kennedy. Looking pretty sick. The touch judge calls play back down to the other end of the field for the penalty. TeMata off for the Warriors early in the half after taking a knock, Beetham replaces him
45th min: NEWS Manly survive back to back penalties, plus a line dropout out, the defence working very well. Score remains 18-10
48th min: NO TRY - SEA EAGLES A line dropout this time for the Sea Eagles. A solid set is let down on the last as a forward pass forces the changeover when it looked as though Manly had scored. Warriors 18-10
51st min: TRY - SEA EAGLES A bombed intercept chance by Byrne (Warriors) allows Manly the luxury of a zero tackle count close to their line. Not needed, Kennedy on the 2nd tackle take most of the Warriors forward pack across the line, wriggles his arms free, and scores. Williamson converts. Warriors 18-16
54th min: NEWS Dunley and Williamson (Sea Eagles) clash heads but both manage to stay on the field
60th min: NEWS As the television commentators have said, although Manly have lifted their game since the break, the Warriors seem to be doing everything they can to help Manly's cause. A lot of unforced errors
64th min: TRY - SEA EAGLES With the weight of possession with the home side, finally the defence cracks enough for Hicks to score right in the corner. Williamson from right on the sideline, misses the conversion. Sea Eagles 20-18
70th min: NEWS Kennedy and Webb both going for the ball in goal with Kennedy coming off worse, Webb's shoulder collecting Kennedy's chin. Kennedy leaves the field with pins and needles but walking. Line dropout for Manly
75th min: NEWS The Warriors finally down their end of the field for what seems like the first time in this half. A knock on by Menzies right on their line sets up great attacking options
76th min: TRY - WARRIORS The Manly defence caught out on the 4th tackle. Jones spots it, throws the dummy and finally after 2 weeks, gets his well overdue try to see him off to France. Jones slips as he converts, and misses Warriors 22-20
78th min: NEWS Hicks (Sea Eagles) taken in the air by Ropati. A penalty only. Manly have everything to play for in 90 seconds
FULLTIME: Quite fittingly for the Warriors, Jones scores the final and winning try. The Sea Eagles now have a nervous wait as they wait for their game against the Raiders next week. The Warriors farewell their champion halfback as a winner 22-20
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Jones(Warriors) 2 - B Kennedy(Sea Eagles) 1 - S Price(Warriors) -----------------------------------------