Dead last entering round 21, the Manly Sea Eagles desperately needed a win to keep their very slim finals hopes alive.
Taking on the top-of-the-table Warriors, Manly’s task was made even tougher in having to travel to New Zealand – where the Warriors had lost just once for the season.
Not without controversy, Manly earned the landmark victory after a disallowed Warriors try in the dying minutes denied the home side the win in just their second loss at home.
Securing two crucial competition points in just their seventh win of the season, Manly lifted themselves from the bottom of the table and won their last four games of the regular season – including major scalps against the Bulldogs and eventual premiers, the Newcastle Knights – to remarkably claim their finals position, and prove you can never count out the Sea Eagles.
The Manly Sea Eagles keep their Finals hopes alive with a stunning 18-16 upset victory over the top-of-the-table Warriors.
A disallowed try in the dying minutes denied the Warriors from the comeback win in just their second loss at home.
When interchange forward Paki Afu bludgeoned his way over the line he and his team-mates were adamant he’d scored the match-winner but was ruled no try before replays appeared to show Afu had scored.
The Warriors now sit in a four-way tie for first place with Wyong Roos, Penrith Panthers and Mounties.
The Warriors began the contest strongly with wing Ken Maumalo scoring his fifth try in two weeks, again doing really well to squeeze in at the corner with an airborne effort.
The rest of the half didn’t run so well, though, as the Sea Eagles put together three tries, the last of them right on halftime for an 18-4 lead.
The second half immediately took on a different complexion as the Warriors quickly went about setting the agenda.
They settled into the grind and soon enough the pressure told with interchange prop Kouma Samson driving across and Mason Lino converting from close to the posts. Both sides were in for a hard-fought contest with the 18-10 score line.
The Warriors maintained the intensity as Manly matched their favoured opposition in a classic contest.
Then with 11 minutes to go, the Warriors made another move with loose forward David Bhana surging over for Lino to convert again. The Sea Eagles led by two points, setting up a grandstand finish before Afu was held up over the line.
The Warriors travel across the Tasman to take on the Newtown Jets, while Manly grab another two valuable competition points with the bye.
Manly Sea Eagles 18 (Justin Horo, David Williams, Dom Reardon tries; Manaia Rudolph 3 goals) bt Warriors 16 (Ken Maumalo, Kouma Samson, David Bhana tries; Mason Lino 2 goals)