The New Zealand Warriors have finished their tumultuous season on a high, toppling the Manly Sea Eagles 40-28 on Sunday afternoon in a high-scoring contest on the Central Coast.
Before kick-off, the Sea Eagles formed a guard of honour for retiring New Zealand veteran Adam Blair, who has made 330 appearances in the NRL since his first class debut in 2006.
Manly raced to an early lead at Central Coast Stadium, scoring twice in the opening eight minutes. Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans set up the opening try of the match by elegantly floating the ball towards Reuben Garrick on the right wing.
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Brisbane Broncos great Ben Ikin said on Fox League: “He was channelling another Queensland captain, the great Wally Lewis, with just a piece of magic. The cutout pass, sublime.
“It had to go 30, 40, 50 metres — look at it!”
DCE pass to set up Garrick in the corner!
Scoreboard is open 👍#NRLWarriorsManly #TelstraPremiership pic.twitter.com/xZK4xXCkbS
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But as they’ve done throughout the latter half of the season, the Warriors refused to back down, scoring four consecutive tries in a stunning ten-minute blitz.
When forward Eliesa Katoa dived over in the 30th minute to secure a double, the Warriors were leading 26-10.
Ikin said of the Warriors: “When they’ve got possession, they do more with it.”
Manly winger Abbas Miski scored on either side of the halftime break to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Warriors centre Adam Keighran scored his second try of the match in the 54th minute, and after he snared a hat-trick 10 minutes later, the Sea Eagles never looked like making a comeback from there on.
Thank you Warriors! Thank you for being away from your families, for being in the bubble, for doing it for your fans and all fans of the NRL. Such immense respect and appreciation for you. Until next season. #NRLWarriorsManly
Defensive resolve takes a holiday at Central Coast today. Two teams looking forward to a summer break. Enjoyable game to watch though. Warrior showed some lovely attacking football again today. Talented group. Congratulations Adam Blair on a wonderful career. #breakthebubble
The Warriors end their most extraordinary & challenging 2020 #NRL campaign as winners. Not that league fans didn’t view them as winners anyway. The family reunions back home are going to be special. #NRLWarriorsManly #thanksWarriors
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Blair said to Fox League after the match: “It’s been a crazy ride.
“I’ve given my all for every team that I’ve been at … it’s been tough year for everyone, not only our club, by everyone in general.
“I’m just stoked to come away with a win and finish my year on a high.”
Neither club has qualified for the finals series, but after securing their eighth win of the regular season, the Warriors will finish the 2020 premiership above Manly on the NRL ladder in tenth position.
Considering they have essentially played 20 consecutive away matches, the Warriors should be applauded for their commendable season, in which they spent almost six months away from friends and family, saving the competition in doing so.
Melbourne Storm’s official Twitter account posted: “Thank you to the selfless staff, players and families at Warriors for the resilience you have shown and the sacrifices you made to allow the 2020 NRL season to continue. Huge respect”.
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