Tipped by many to run last in 2019, the Manly Sea Eagles have thumped last year's finalists the Warriors 46-12 in an emotional match played before a crowd of 11,774 in Christchurch.
Serving as the first NRL match played in Christchurch since the white supremacist terrorist attack two weeks earlier, both sides engaged in a show of solidarity before kick-off, but as soon as the whistle was blown there was no love lost on the field.
Coming into the match eager to record back-to-back wins against the Sea Eagles for the first time since 2004, the Warriors wasted little time acquainting themselves on the scoreboard with Isaiah Papalii regathering his own grubber to score after just two minutes.
Responding with a flurry of tries to shock the ‘visitors', returning fullback Tom Trbojevic (10th minute), Daly Cherry-Evans (14th minute) and Joel Thompson (16th minute) established an 18-6 lead inside the first 20 minutes after exposing the Warriors tepid defence.
Needing to show some resolve, Issac Luke (23rd minute) narrowed the margin to six points, but a late effort by Manly interchange hooker Manase Fainu (36th minute) re-established a twelve point break for the ‘home' side.
Dominating possession after halftime, the Warriors struggled to fire an attacking shot against the resilient Sea Eagles, despite multiple repeat sets in quality field position.
Securing the result in the 58th minute, Cherry-Evans placed himself in the right spot to support Trbojevic for his second try in a memorable performance that saw him equal his most points in a match courtesy of a 22 point haul from two tries and seven goal.
Adding further tries to Trbojevic (64th minute), Jorge Taufua (70th minute) and Reuben Garrick (78th minute) - his first in the NRL - the Sea Eagles demonstrated plenty of class in the drier conditions to run out 46-12 victors.
Returning to Lottoland next week to tackle the in-form Rabbitohs on Saturday afternoon, the Warriors will be desperate to make amends against the struggling Titans at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night.