The Warriors survived a late Manly comeback to break their six-match Mount Smart losing streak to win 24-16.
The Warriors did not take long to get themselves on the scoreboard when Ken Maumalo latched onto a Chanel Harris-Tavita chip kick for the first points of the match, Harris-Tavita was unable to convert the try, and an error in the next set gave Manly prime position to score some points themselves, but the Warriors defence attitude was on display as they managed to keep the Sea Eagles contained.
Both sides battled back and forth until the 22nd minute when the Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scooped a Blake Green grubber up and flung it between his legs to allow Ligi Sao to cross the try line untouched. Minutes later the Warriors were back at it again when Maumalo flirted with the sideline when he crossed for his second try, Harris-Tavita converted both tries to push the Warriors out to a 16-0 lead. Manly appeared shellshocked, and their discipline let them down as Harris-Tavita kicked a penalty in the 39th minute to give the Warriors an 18-0 lead going into the break.
The Warriors started the second half much like the first with Maumalo charging down the sideline only to throw a forward pass to Harris-Tavita. This was the last scoring chance for both sides for some time as they trade blows in the middle of the paddock. With time running out, Manly appeared desperate but couldn’t crack the home sides defensive line. It wasn’t until the 67th minute when Adam Blair was sin-binned that the Sea Eagles started to show glimpses of their attacking prowess, taking advantage on the overlap scoring three tries in eight minutes via Joel Thompson and Reuben Garrick, Garrick converted two of the tries to bring Manly back into the game trailing 18-16.
The crowd were on the edge of their seats as Manly appeared to have taken control of the match but breathed a sigh of relief when Jazz Tevaga snuck over from dummy half in the 77th minute, Harris-Tavitas form with the boot continued as he slotted another one giving the Warriors their first win at Mount Smart since April 24-16.
Mount Smart streak over
The Warriors haven’t tasted victory at Mount Smart since round 4 and were looking at a record-breaking 7th straight defeat in Auckland. If the Warriors want to be taken seriously in the NRL, they need to win the majority of their games played on New Zealand soil.
Manly attacking woes
Manly won the battle of the stats, beating the Warriors on almost all counts but could not convert their opportunities into points. They appeared disjointed at times and were never able to move into second gear. Their only points came while Adam Blair was sin-binned which will be concerning for Manly fans. If the Sea Eagles do not improve their attacking game, then they will not feature in the playoffs for long.
Too little, too late
The smallest Mount Smart crowd of the season reflected the confidence the Warriors fans had in a victory here but for the ones that did decide to show up were rewarded with an exciting bounce back from last weeks woeful performance. Unfortunately for their fans its a chance of too little too late as the chances of the Warriors playing finals football requires them not to drop any of their upcoming tough matches which may be a step too far.
Top four now out of reach?
A win here for Manly would have cemented their claims for a top-four spot, and with tough matches up against the Storm and the Raiders still to come, they may have to settle for a lower position on the ladder. A huge bounce back is needed against the West Tigers next week. They have the talent in their squad; they need to work together instead of relying on individual brilliance.
New Zealand Warriors 24
Tries: Ken Maumalo (2), Ligi Sao, Jazz Tevaga
Goals: Chanel Harris-Tavita 4/5
Manly Sea Eagles 16
Tries: Reuben Garrick (2), Joel Thompson
Goals: Reuben Garrick 2/3
New Zealand Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 20. Adam Pompey, 3. Peta Hiku, 2. Gerard Beale, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 12. Isaiah Papali’i, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Adam Keighran, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Ligi Sao
Manly Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Brad Parker, 4. Moses Suli, 5. Reuben Garrick, 6. Dylan Walker, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Manase Fainu, 15. Corey Waddell, 16. Morgan Boyle, 17. Taniela Paseka