3 Oct 2011

NRL dream over for Warriors

5:56 am on 3 October 2011

The Warriors quest for a National Rugby League premiership is over.

The New Zealand side lost 24-10 to the Manly Sea Eagles at Olympic Stadium in Sydney on Sunday night. The half-time score was 12-2 to Manly.

It was only the second time New Zealand has made the grand final since entering the competition in 1995, and the Warriors were hoping to take the title for the first time after their upset win against Melbourne last weekend.

The win is Manly's second title of the last four seasons and the eighth in the club's history.

The Warriors have not appeared in a decider since they lost to the Roosters in 2002, when current coach Ivan Cleary was playing full-back for the New Zealanders.

The Sea Eagles built a 12-2 advantage at half-time and led by as much as 16 points in the second half.

But the Warriors' exciting and unpredictable brand of rugby made for a tense final 20 minutes as they scored on tries by Manu Vatuvei and Elijah Taylor, to have the 81,988-strong crowd on the edge of their seats.

Manly captain Jamie Lyon says the Warriors put up a good fight.

"They just kept coming and coming -- gee they've had a good season."

He gave full credit to his team, saying the win was fully deserved.

Star Sea Eagles back rower Glenn Stewart was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal. He scored a second-half try and a try assist, made 15 hit-ups for 89 metres, made 37 tackles and had three off-loads.

The loss denied the departing coach Ivan Cleary, who is headed to Penrith in 2012, a fairytale finish to his Warriors career.

Cleary played in the Warriors' only other decider, a loss in 2002 to the Roosters, alongside veteran utility Lance Hohaia, whose career with the New Zealanders has also come to and end.


Manly: Tries: Brett Stewart, Daly Cherry-Evans, Glenn Stewart and Jamie Lyon, with Lyon booting three from three and departing winger Michael Robertson the final conversion.

Warriors: Tries: Manu Vatuvei and Elijah Taylor and James Maloney kicked a goal.

Other results

The Junior Warriors came out on top in the grand final of the under-20 competition.

They won 31-30 in extra time in the curtain-raiser to the premiership game.

And the club's reserve-grade team, the Auckland Vulcans, just missed out on winning their final.

Fans shocked at loss

The loss was witnessed by thousands of the team's biggest fans at their home ground of Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

The stadium was open to fans as was Captain Cook Wharf on the Auckland waterfront.

The second wharf was opened so as not to clash with Rugby World Cup games being aired at party central Queens Wharf.

Heavy rain kept many fans away from the stadium with a crowd of only about 5000 - less than a quarter of the stadium's 23,000 seat capacity.

Radio New Zealand's reporter at the stadium said fans told her that while the loss was disappointing, reaching the Grand Final in itself was an achievement.