Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles got off the duck egg for the season with a tense 13-12 win against New Zealand Warriors tonight at Central Coast Stadium.
It was more gritty than pretty but those in maroon-and-white won't care. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have their first win of the season, thanks to Daly Cherry-Evans field goal right on the siren to continue their good recent record against the New Zealand Warriors.
The final ten felt like a pressure cooker for both sides, desperate to not be in the losing side again. Warriors had one opportunity through Sean O'Sullivan who sprayed it wide and were unable to set up again. They were gifted a prime chance with a late error from the Sea Eagles but Kodi Nikorima was rushed and kicked behind.
The Sea Eagles had one shot and it fell to Cherry-Evans who has kicked field goals for fun against the Warriors in recent years. The Captain put one over the upright to release the pressure on the side. That showed in the outpouring of relief from the Sea Eagles celebration after the full-time whistle.
Coming into the contest, the Sea Eagles hadn't led at any point this season. Cherry-Evans made it a tactic to constantly kick on third and fourth which paid dividends from the 27th minute scrum. The halfback booted it deep, Jason Saab showing some impressive toe to beat the Warriors to the ball and give the Sea Eagles their first lead of the season at 6-nil.
The way the Warriors levelled was a symptom of the Sea Eagles season. RTS cut through, passed well to Jack Murchie whose ball to 100-gamer Ken Maumalo was knocked by Saab right into the winger's path for 6-6.
Errors had been a fixture of the Sea Eagles demise this season, plenty of times they offered up the Warriors field position. The Warriors though, were clunky in their own attack and despite having the advantage weren't able to break down the Sea Eagles defense.
Warriors have a simple game-plan in 2021. Complete their sets, kick well and they forced enough errors to score more than 12 points. Their only other four-pointer came through former Bronco Sean O'Sullivan, who has settled into his role since Chanel Harris-Tavita's injury, sliced through to make it 12-6.
Much of the contest was played between the halfway, both sides unable to get a handle on the ball. The game turned into a grind between two sides looking not to lose, the Warriors who have higher ambitions will be disappointed to lose back-to-back contests. Coach Nathan Brown will have to get his side ready for the Dragons next weekend down in the 'gong.