League: Jones' final act puts Manly on knife edge

By Peter Jessup

Stacey Jones left the NRL after 238 games as a winner, scoring the deciding try for the Warriors and landing three goals, one better than Manly's Luke Williamson.

The result put the Eagles' season on a high-wire. They have to win in Canberra next weekend to ensure a playoff place.

"It's disappointing but we get to fight again next week," said Manly coach Des Hasler.

"We're still alive and obviously we played a lot better than the Cronulla game last weekend [a 68-6 loss to the Sharks]."

Warriors coach Tony Kemp said: "We didn't have a lot to play for but Stacey was the big reason. He is like Jonah Lomu and we wanted to send him out a winner."

It was big wing Manu Vatuvei who looked more like Jonah. He backed up a good showing against the Knights the weekend before with more blockbusting runs and is developing as a valuable kick-returner and dummy-half runner.

But as with Lomu, the opposition kick in behind him to take advantage of the time he takes to turn.

The Eagles attacked hard early on with Michael Monaghan kicking to the wings.

But it was in the middle where they scored first, Ben Kennedy crashing through defenders after four minutes.

Twice more they got close but it was the Warriors who scored next when Jones dabbed at the line and was stripped by Chris Hicks. The ball rolled free for Sione Faumuina.

After 18 minutes Steve Price slipped a ball to Ruben Wiki to score after Brent Webb ran outside his man.

The front row of Price, Wiki and Nathan Fien was the Warriors' rock, making 110 of a team total of 319 tackles. And Price's ground-gain of 192m will once again have him at the top of the all-up stats.

The Warriors were exerting pressure in the middle of the first half, and when Jones chipped and regathered twice and Wairangi Koopu scored it looked as if they were taking control.

But two minutes before the break Monaghan's kick from 40m out was grabbed by centre Paul Stephenson, whose try took the home side to 10-18.

In the second half the Warriors put themselves under pressure.

Todd Byrne dropped the ball 10m off their own line and Kennedy scored again.

Hicks scored in the 63rd minute for a 20-18 lead after the Warriors had spent too much time in their own half. But then Kennedy, who was inspirational for the home side, crashed his head on Brent Webb's shoulder and had to leave the field.

Momentum swung again and with five minutes left Jones saw a gap from 15m out and raced in on an angle.

He was the last man to handle the ball, kicking it over the touch-line to end the match after the Warriors toughed out the last plays.

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