Manly Sea Eagles 26
NZ Warriors 20
Welcome to the Warriors, Bluey.
The Warriors' new coach Brian McClennan got a taste of what he can expect in this year's NRL with a rollercoaster 26-20 defeat to the Manly Sea Eagles in front of about 40,000 spectators at Eden Park.
McClennan will be pleased with what he saw of halfback Shaun Johnson, who had a hand in most of the good things the Warriors came up with on attack.
Manu Vatuvei scored two tries to launch and then sustain the Warriors' comeback thanks largely to Johnson and there were flashes of brilliance from fullback Kevin Locke, new centre Konrad Hurrell and interchange player Lewis Brown.
The old problems are still there, though. Defensive lapses cost the Warriors dearly and mistakes after they put themselves in good positions let Manly off the hook time and again.
Wing David Williams put Manly in front with a simple try in the corner and then he turned provider with a clever centering kick for Daly Cherry-Evans to go over.
Steve Matai added the pain for the Warriors and at 16-0, they were up against it. But, roared on by the big and vocal crowd enjoying the occasion and rare good weather, they slowly clawed their way back.
Vatuvei scored his first try thanks to amazing footwork and a nifty bounce pass from Johnson and then the halfback scored one himself under the posts, jinking through several would-be defenders and using his strength to great effect.
However, Manly came straight back after the break through a converted Tony Williams score to push the score out to 22-10, although the Warriors refused to give up.
A converted Locke try after a high-kick scramble put them back in the hunt and Vatuvei gave them real hope with a converted try scored thanks to a long pass from Johnson.
At 22-20 and with Manly hooker Matt Ballin in the sinbin after holding down Brown in the tackle, it was all on with 10 minutes to go.
But Manly, last season's champions, had the final say through prop Glenn Stewart, although Jamie Lyon's failure to convert set up a frantic final few minutes as the Warriors sought a final way back.
MANLY 26 (D Cherry-Evans S Matai G Stewart D Williams T Williams tries J Lyon 3 goals) bt WARRIORS 20 (M Vatuvei 2 S Johnson K Locke tries J Maloney 2 goals) at Eden Park. Referee: Tony Archer, Ben Cummins.
- Herald online