In a nail-biting showdown on Saturday night, the Sea Eagles managed to hold off a gallant performance by the Warriors to win 19 – 16 at Brookvale Oval.
The victory has boosted Manly up to the fifth on the ladder and Ladbrokes.com.au have shortened their odds to win the Premiership into $8.
Manly are now an $8 chance through Ladbrokes.com.au to win the Premiership
New Zealand aren’t out of the September semis by any means, sitting in seventh on equal competition points with Many and the sixth-ranked Roosters.
On Saturday night an early penalty to the Warriors saw James Maloney kick for the points putting them on the board first.
Two minutes later the Sea Eagles stole the lead with a Steve Matai 13th minute four-pointer, converted by Jamie Lyon so the home side were up 6 – 2.
In an arm-wrestle of a match, New Zealand were next to score through Maloney in the 23rd minute who kicked his own try to push the visitors in front 8 – 6.
Manly kept the see-sawing of the scoreboard going when giant winger Tony Williams crossed for his first of an eventual match double in the 29th minute off a Glenn Stewart offload, Lyon missing the kick so it was still a two-point game 10 – 8 in favour of the Sea Eagles.
Before the break New Zealand were able to get the lead back giving fans a thrilling opening half, with Simon Mannering scoring a converted try in the 37th minute so the Warriors took a 14 – 10 lead into halftime.
In an exciting first five minutes of the second half, the Warriors were given an early advantage when they were awarded a penalty that Maloney kicked giving them a six point buffer.
But they were far from safe and just two minutes later Williams scored his second of the night thanks once again to a skilful offload from Stewart, and Lyon successfully converted tying the score once more 16 all.
With half an hour to go and the match getting grittier by the second, it was obvious a field goal was called for and fans were on the edge of their seats.
The drop kick finally came with just four minutes left on the clock when fullback Trent Hodkinson, off to Canterbury next season, gave Manly the one point lead following his earlier missed shot.
In the last minute of the match the Sea Eagles were lucky to extend their winning margin to three points when a final penalty went their way and Lyon sent it flying through the sticks in a rousing finish to one of the round’s heart-stoppers.
It wasn’t all good news for Manly, however, who are likely to play without Shane Rodney and Anthony Watmough next week after both were injured on Saturday.
The Warriors Michael Luck was also badly hurt with a nasty stud wound sending him to hospital and ensuring he will be on the sideline for their clash with Brisbane in Round 25.
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