Johnson, Fusitua run riot over Manly

Image Rights - Manly Sea Eagles

The Manly Sea Eagles took a home game on the road and over the ditch as they took on the New Zealand Warriors in Christchurch for the first game of Super Saturday. Both teams were coming off shocking previous performances, with Manly taking a battering from Jason Taumololo and the Cowboys during the bye week. The Warriors had the week off last week, yet were held to nothing at home against a rejuvenated South Sydney in round 12.

With both teams looking for two points for completely different reasons, there weren't going to be too many changes to both side prior to kick-off. In saying that, both teams ended up making a change in the 24 hours prior to kick-off. Moses Suli was sensationally dropped from the Sea Eagles side after missing a training session earlier on in the week, with backline utility Brad Parker moving in at centre.

The Warriors were looking to be at full strength until Roger Tuivasa-Sheck went down hurt during the week. With the Warriors fullback and captain going down, it left Peta Hiku to shift into the fullback role and Gerard Beale moved into his preferred centre position from the extended bench.

It would be a great first 10 minutes for Manly, who had back-to-back sets close to the Warriors line. It would pay off just 4 minutes in, with Api Koroisau burrowing his way over from dummy half to open the scoring. Trent Hodkinson would convert to make it 6-0 after as many minutes.

The Warriors would dominate the next 10 minutes, compounded by Manly losing Api Koroisau just 12 minutes in with what looked to be a knee injury before a line drop out. The Warriors would go over, only for the tap on from Gerard Beale to correctly be called forward. Some ill-discipline would cost the Warriors, with some piggy-back sets allowing Manly to take a penalty goal and make it 8-0 after 20 minutes.

A poor kick-chase by Manly just minutes later allowed Ken Maumalo to run 50 metres up field, busting tackles all through his run as he set the Warriors up in great field position. The Warriors would capitalize on this, with Blake Green sending Shaun Lane into no mans land and sending Isaiah Papali'i through to the try line. Shaun Johnson would convert it to make it 8-6 after 25 minutes.

The second-row would strike aagain for the Warriors after a sneaky steal from Isaac Luke 20 metres from the tryline. With Papali'i going close to a second try, Blake Green sent Tohu Harris over in a mirror image play of the Warriors first try. Shaun Johnson would make the conversion in his 150th game to send the Warriors ahead 12-8 with 10 minutes left in the half. Despite the chances that both teams had, that is how it would stay heading into the break.

Manly would have a great first few minutes after the break, however David Fusitua would power straight through the Manly defense to break into the backfield and send Shaun Johnson under the sticks for an 18-8 lead with Johnson converting his own try.

Manly's kicking game left a lot to be desired, consistently giving the Warriors good field position and it nearly went against them as Simon Mannering went over for what was thought to be a try. Instead, the referees deemed that Bunty Afoa had played the ball at an angle which disadvantaged the defense. Manly got the penalty but all the momentum was still with the Warriors.

It would show once again, with Isaac Luke slicing over the field to put Shaun Johnson through the gap and away down the field. He would drag away the Manly defenders and David Fusitua would go over for his 13th try of the season to sink Manly's hearts once and for all at 24-8.

Fusitua would go over once again off the back of some brilliant work from Isaac Luke, with a lovely cut out pass which gets Fusitua on the outside of Aku Uate and over the tryline for his second of the day. Shaun Johnson would miss the conversion, however a 28-8 scoreline sealed the game with 18 minutes left.

Akuila Uate would then make an absolute meal of a grubber from Shaun Johnson, with David Fusitua getting a hat-trick for the night as well as his 15th for the season in the right hand corner. Shaun Johnson would yet again convert to make it 34-8 with 15 minutes left. Daly Cherry-Evans would try a chip and chase to finish a disjointed set, with Kata plucking it from mid-air and running 50 metres to sum up this game for Manly.

Manly would end up going over with 9 minutes left after a fantastic set, with Daly Cherry Evans offloading to Brian Kelly to get over for a bustling try. It would be too little too late, with Hodkinson converting to make it 34-14 with not enough time left. Tom Trbojevic would send Uate over, however a marginal pass would be called forward which would have made for an interesting last few minutes.

Both teams would try to get back over the line one more time but that would be all, with the Warriors sealing a top 4 spot with a convincing 34-14 win. Both teams are on the road next week, as the Warriors travel up to Townsville for a battle with North Queensland while the Sea Eagles head down to take on the Dragons at WIN Stadium.



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