The Manly Sea Eagles showed their style and credentials to cruise past an NZ Warriors side tonight, setting up a repeat of the 2007 NRL grand final with the Melbourne Storm, in the end it was 32-6 with the Warriors only hanging on for a period of around 30 minutes before wilting under the precision of the Manly side.
The strong showing not only gets Manly a shot at redeeming themselves against the Melbourne Storm – it sends a strong message that the Sea Eagles are ready to roll in the big show
The Sea Eagles showed their stuff in front of 32,095 fans at the SFS -slightly more than last nights game but still short of the grounds capacity of 40,000, with a completion rate of over 90% everything the Sea Eagles did was precise.
Injuries could be the only hurdle for the Manly men, with Matt Orford suffering an ankle complaint. But any down time by Orford was quickly covered by the in form Jamie Lyon. The oft maligned Lyon running, kicking and passing to perfection throughout the night to put his hand up for man of the match honours.
The Dally M Medallist said he “should” be fit to tackle the Storm in the season decider.
Leading 12-0 at halftime, the Sea Eagles were up 22-0 after 51 minutes and the Warriors’ season was as good as over.
Seven minutes after the break, Jamie Lyon outleapt Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon to regather his own bomb and sent a miracle offload for Orford to score.
The floodgates threatened to open when Lyon sent Glenn Stewart over in the 51st minute and did when winger Michael Robertson sprinted 40m after collecting a superb one-armed offload from centre Steve Matai.
Hasler replaced Orford in the 68th minute but that did nothing to stall the Sea Eagles’ momentum when another Matai bust sent fullback Brett Stewart over for his second try and a lead of 32-0.
The halftime lead had come courtesy of four-pointers from tryscoring machines Brett Stewart in the 12th minute and Steve Menzies (34th), and a Harlem Globetrotters-like pass from fullback Stewart to Matai a minute before the break.
Stewart bagged his 21st four-pointer of the year when he flew onto a deft pass from Orford before Menzies, the game’s most prolific tryscoring forward, made the most of a great ball popped from interchange forward Mark Bryant.
Stewart then turned provider in the final minute of the half with a miracle between-the-legs ball for Matai to touch down.
The scoreline might have been worse for the Warriors had Orford booted more than his one from five.
The Warriors could find no way through the stifling Manly defence during the first half and only managed a 75th minute consolation try to winger Aidan Kirk.
Their dream run from eighth, during which they downed minor premiers Melbourne and eliminated the Sydney Roosters, ended in bitter disappointment for retiring prop Ruben Wiki.
But, after two farewells at Brookvale Oval, Manly champion Menzies will now get the chance to be sent off with a premiership and to equal Canterbury great Terry Lamb’s record of 349 first grade games in a grand final.
MANLY 32 (B Stewart 2 S Matai S Menzies M Orford M Robertson G Stewart tries S Matai M Orford goals) bt NZ WARRIORS 6 (A Kirk try L Hohaia goal) at Sydney Football Stadium. Referee: S Hayne.