The Sea Eagles have opened a four-point gap at the top of the NRL ladder after a stoic and defence-oriented 22-12 victory over the New Zealand Warriors today in front of 19,199 parochial fans in Auckland.
It was all the home side to start with, an Anthony Watmough error was immediately capitalised upon by Konrad Hurrell who dashed in down the right side, carrying several defenders across the line to open the scoring inside a minute. The momentum stayed with the Warriors through much of the first twenty minutes as they held on to a 6-0 lead but execution started letting them down, eventually conceding plenty of possession to the Sea Eagles.
Manly took advantage of the additional ball at the 19th minute with Cheyse Blair scoring a try in the corner. Lyon wasn't able to convert though, meaning the hosts kept a two-point lead. The Warriors then looked to have hit back a few minutes later after a high kick was left to bounce near the touchline, being batted back by Vatuvei for Simon Mannering - but replays showed that sideline bounce had indeed touched chalk and the try was denied. The 30th minute bought along another try for Manly, this time through Peta Hiku - a super effort in the corner and this time it was all good from Lyon out wide. 10-6 would be the scoreline through to halftime in favour of the visiting side.
The Sea Eagles went into the second half and clung to their four-point lead, making simple errors but standing strong in defence to deny the Warriors countless times. The 47th minute saw Vatuvei cross to claim a try but he never grounded the ball and the video referee ruled he was held up. Manly continued strong in defence before finally turning the tide and it led to Peta Hiku claiming his second try with fifteen remaining. Cherry-Evans sealed the game with nine minutes left scoring under the posts, while the Warriors hit back in the 74th through captain Simon Mannering to give themselves a faint late hope. The final 22-12 scoreline means Manly jump four points clear of the Panthers and Bulldogs on the table, and leaves the Warriors teetering on the edge of the top eight as the race for spots tightens.
Next week Manly are looking at a short turnaround when they face Brisbane on Friday night at Brookie, while the Warriors are off to Canberra to face the lowly Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday.