Pure relief.

That will be the overwhelming emotion for the Warriors this morning, after a nervy 20-16 victory over the Raiders last night.

On Simon Mannering's milestone night, the hosts struggled to get into gear, and were a Blake Austin fingertip away from an anticlimactic loss.

For much of the night, it was too much icing and not enough cake


The visitors came to play and the Warriors couldn't pull away from them. There was no lack of spirit or grit, but they tightened up in the final quarter, clearly feeling the pressure of the occasion.

In the end, the Warriors were perhaps lucky to hang on, as the Raiders had several chances in the frantic last 10 minutes of the match.

"I'm really proud of the team," said Mannering. "That second half wasn't a perfect game but they dug deep. When you put in a lot of effort you tend to get the rub of the green and we did tonight. Canberra were pretty close to scoring it was never in the bag, right up until the last minute."

Mannering had an uncomfortable night. He suffered a knock to his sternum in the first play of the match, as he tackled Raiders prop Shannon Boyd. The 32-year-old played on till halftime, but left the action in the opening minutes of the second period.

"I was battling that first half and once it cooled down it probably made it worse," said Mannering, who joked that he was avoiding contact for much of the first half. "I'm just stoked for the guys that they held on. I wasn't much help out there tonight but I'll rest up tonight and hopefully be sweet next week."

The circumstances of the match added a lot of pressure, but, to paraphase All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, the Warriors will need to flush the dunny and move on, because this kind of display won't be good enough next week.

Last night was a reminder that no matter how much you might want a result, you can't force it. A sellout crowd, league fans across the country, his teammates, parents and family — just about everybody wanted to mark Mannering's 300th NRL game in the right way.

But it meant his team probably got ahead of themselves, thinking of the result , rather than focusing on the performance.


This led to a patchy, nervy first-half performance. There was no lack of effort but the home side were almost trying too hard, pushing passes that didn't need to be thrown, trying complicated when simple was better and forgetting to do the basics before the magic.

It didn't help that the Raiders, who have scored more points than any other team this year, are the ultimate spoilers. Ricky Stuart's freewheeling side are a dangerous, in-form team, with the biggest pack in the competition and giants scattered across their backline.

There were touches of magic, such as Peta Hiku's slip pass to create a 25th-minute try for David Fusitu'a, but nothing sustained.

The Warriors consistently tried to go too lateral, too early, and couldn't make the most of repeated opportunities.

The second half didn't get much better. Hiku's early try failed to settle the home side and the game turned following an unfortunate decision by Tevaga. At 16-8, with a five-man overlap outside him, the Warriors' utility instead tried to go himself.

That was one of the moments that turned momentum, which led to a soft Raiders try to Elliot Whitehead.

From there the Raiders finished the match stronger, though the home side showed admirable grit to hold on.