The New Zealand Warriors overcame a half-time deficit to defeat the Manly Sea Eagles 36-22 after a strong five-try second half performance.
Halfback Mason Lino was instrumental in the Warriors victory, involved in almost every play for the entire 80 minutes. David Fusitu’a and Nathaniel Peteru also played a big role in the Warriors victory.
The Sea Eagles were the first team to score when James Hasson dived on a Jack Littlejohn grubber in the 6th minute of the game. Kurt Aldridge converted the try to make it 6-0.
In the 19th minute, the Sea Eagles scored again when Aldridge threw an outstanding cutout pass to Ben Fritz who scored on the left side. Aldridge missed the kick this time and the score remained 10-0.
Manly would have been pleased with their start, but not satisfied with the poor defensive effort on Peteru in the 23rd minute as he forced his way over to score. Api Pewhairangi hit the post in his conversion attempt and it was 10-4.
It looked like this was going to be the halftime score until Warriors winger Ken Maumalo made a great run up field in the 40th minute. He got tackled and then the ball was shifted to Lino, who put a great little kick in for Jarrod Tua to score with only seconds remaining in the half.
Pewhairangi missed the conversion and the score was 10-8 to the Sea Eagles at halftime.
Peteru powered through under the posts to put the Warriors in front for the first time just three minutes into the second half. It was an easy kick for Pewhairangi to make the score 14-10.
The Sea Eagles hit back just six minutes later after Reardon scored a strange try, where he went to catch a bomb but instead it hit his boot and rolled into open space. He then chased it, picked it up and ran a fair distance to score under the posts untouched. The Aldridge conversion put them back in front 16-14.
The lead was short lived after Fusitu’a received the ball off a scrum and burst through the defence to score. Pewhairangi missed his third kick and it was 18-16 to the Warriors.
Three minutes later they were in again when Sam Cook threw a skillful offload for Niukore to score on the left side for the Warriors. Lino took over the kicking duties and converted to make it 24-16.
Delroy Berryman looked certain to score for Manly but was denied by desperate Warriors defence.
With ten minutes remaining, Fusitu’a deflected the ball in the direction of Lino who showed great hands to retain possession, and then even more skill to run around the defence and score. He converted his own try to make it 30-16.
The Sea Eagles were penalised due to a kickoff indiscretion, which led to a Fusitu’a completing his double after it went through the Warriors hands. Lino completed a fantastic game with a conversion to make the score 36-16.
With just a minute remaining, Berryman scored a consolation try for the Sea Eagles. Aldridge converted the try and the final score was 36-22.
It was a brave performance by Manly but a Lino-inspired Warriors outfit ensured a top four spot at the completion of the round.
The Warriors will travel to Pirtek Stadium next week to face the Wentworthville Magpies whilst the Sea Eagles have the bye before facing the Illawarra Cutters in two weeks at WIN Stadium.
New Zealand Warriors 36 (D Fusitu’a 2, N Peteru 2, M Niukore, J Tua, M Lino tries; Lino 3, Pewhairangi goals) bt Manly Sea Eagles 22 (D Reardon, D Berryman, B Fritz, J Hasson tries; K Aldridge 3 goals)