This was a statement performance.

The Warriors are back in the groove, and remain on track for an historic finals berth.

Sure, Manly won't be contenders this year, and they were hampered badly tonight by the early loss of their hooker Api Koroisau.

But they are a dangerous team, with quality individuals across their roster. Yet, the Sea Eagles were blown off the park in Christchurch, by a rampant Warriors side, with a 34-14 scoreline that could have been higher.


And while the Warriors' attack caught the eye, with some vintage Shaun Johnson busts, incisive runs by Issac Luke and a hat trick to David Fusitu'a, it was the unrelenting defence that set up the victory.

After giving up a try in the fifth minute, the Warriors didn't have their line crossed again for more than 65 minutes, and showed real determination to make every tackle count, especially in the first half.

It was a sharp contrast to the hesitant defensive effort against the Rabbitohs a fortnight ago.

Johnson, as predicted, made a significant difference. He rebounded from an early mistake to torment the Sea Eagles in the second half, and his run to set up Fusitu'a's first try was a thrilling moment. Blake Green also deserves plenty of credit, as he created the first two tries during a critical first half period.

For the Warriors, this victory is the perfect tonic. Not just for the bounce back factor after the bye, though that was important given the poor performance last time out. This win was vital, because it sets up the second half of the season, especially with a challenging six weeks to come. There's a trip to Townsville to face the resurgent Cowboys, then the visit of the Sharks, where, due to the Kiwis' Denver test, we could see the 'Baby Warriors'.

Then there is a tough three week spell where the Warriors visit Penrith and Brisbane, before hosting the Storm. A loss tonight could have seen doubts creep in, which would only compound over the coming rounds.

But now the Warriors, who conservatively need five wins from their last 11 matches to seal a playoff berth, have some breathing space.

The result also continued the Warriors hoodoo-busting season. The Sea Eagles have been a notorious bogey team for the Warriors; before tonight they had won the past seven matches and 20 of the past 24 encounters. It also proved these Warriors can win in other New Zealand cities, after the club has historically struggled away from Mt Smart.


The Warriors forwards were men on a mission at AMI Stadium, with skipper Green observing it was the best effort from the pack since March.

Simon Mannering had a strong impact. After admitting last week he was still grappling with the decision around his future, he gave the kind of performance that might convince him to play on into the 2019 season.

He came up with a vintage try saving tackle on Tom Trbojevic in the 45th minute, which was a match turner, as the Warriors scored a minute later. Mannering also crossed for a try under the posts, though it was bizzarrely disallowed for a incorrect play the ball by Agnatius Paasi.

Peta Hiku stepped up well in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's absence, always in the right position to defuse Manly's kicking game. And in the week that Manu Vatuvei was released by Salford, Ken Maumalo reminded everyone why he is on his way to becoming the new 'Beast', while Fusitu'a underlined his status as one of the best finishers in the sport.