A spirited performance from the New Zealand Warriors has seen them record a third straight victory today, 18-16 over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in front of 11,142 at Mt Smart Stadium.
Looking to consolidate a top four position as the important Origin period kicks in, Manly raced to an early 12-0 lead - tries to Justin Horo and Peta Hiku almost too easy to come by to have them two tries clear after a quarter of the match.
Already thick with penalties, the match turned in the Warriors favour with plenty of whistles blown to get the home side within striking distance of a comeback - and they took full advantage. Elijah Taylor stormed over in the 23rd minute, before Feleti Mateo set up Glen Fisiiahi for the Warriors' leveller in the 32nd. Shaun Johnson's boot ensured the hosts would go to the break level, converting both tries.
The second half saw neither side score a point until the 68th minute, with errors and penalties dominating the play and stopping any real flow. After the hour mark, New Zealand put sustained pressure on the Manly line, with the Eagles finally cracking when Konrad Hurrell crashed over.
Johnson's conversion with eleven remaining meant the Warriors would protect a six-point lead, but a try out wide to Manly hard-man Steve Matai brought the margin back to two. A must-kick sideline conversion from Jamie Lyon missed badly, leaving the visitors behind by two in the final minutes.
The scorers weren't troubled any further, with the Warriors denied a four-pointer in the final minute.
The Warriors will face a huge challenge to extend their winning run next Sunday night at Allianz Stadium when they visit the Roosters, while the Sea Eagles have a short turnaround to host Canterbury at Brookvale, who have just climbed into the top eight.
New Zealand Warriors 18 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Halftime Score: 12 all
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Feleti Mateo
2 points - Elijah Taylor
1 point - Justin Horo
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (18)
Tries: Elijah Taylor, Glen Fisiiahi, Konrad Hurrell
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (3/3)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (16)
Tries: Justin Horo, Peta Hiku, Steve Matai
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Interchange: 14. Ben Matulino 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Sebastine Ikahihifo 17. Dominique Peyroux
Sea Eagles: 1. Peta Hiku 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon (c) 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brent Kite 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart
Interchange: 14. Tom Symonds 15. James Hasson 16. Jamie Buhrer 17. George Rose
Warriors: Kevin Locke (hip flexor) and Russell Packer (sternum) are OUT for the hosts. Glen Fisiiahi moves from the wing to fullback, with #18 Ngani Laumape replacing "the Fish" on the wing. Packer is replaced by #21 Suaia Matagi who will start at prop.
Sea Eagles: The visitors are 1-17 as per the program, David Gower dropping off the five man bench. This means Anthony Watmough will successfully back up from his NSW Origin duties on Wednesday.
Scored by Justin Horo. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
The Warriors fail to number up and Justin Horo finds the whole, strolling over almost untouched. Lyon adds the extras with no trouble.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 6-0
Scored by Peta Hiku. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Peta Hiku has been awarded the try despite a Warriors player being contacted by a decoy runner on the sliding play. Lyon converts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12-0
Scored by Elijah Taylor. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Warriors with back to back penalties... and then Elijah Taylor steps past several defenders and buries the ball into the turf near the post. Johnson converts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12-6
Scored by Glen Fisiiahi. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Feleti Mateo delivers a perfect pass to fool the Manly defenders and Glen Fisiiahi is the beneficiary of a great play. Johnson levels the scores with the conversion.
Scored by Konrad Hurrell. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Hurrell picks up a lazy pass out wide and beats three players including Anthony Watmough to score for the Warriors! Johnson converts for a six point lead.
New Zealand Warriors 18-12
TRY MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
Scored by Steve Matai. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
Steve Matai scores out wide for the Sea Eagles! Game on! Lyon's conversion is almost embarrassing and sends Mt Smart into raptures. Manly trail by two.
New Zealand Warriors 18-16